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Online Comics => Escape From Terra => Topic started by: corwinargentus on May 19, 2009, 08:59:04 am

Title: Command Responsibility
Post by: corwinargentus on May 19, 2009, 08:59:04 am
I was going to post this on another thread and then decided to give it its own little space so as not to divert other established threads.  It may die a rapid and quiet death, which is fine, Just wanted to put it out here as a convenience/thought provoker in regard to the subject currently on the minds of Sov. Emily Rose and Weapons Officer Young.

For those with a little time on their hands and an interest in studying a little history (always a worthwhile endeavor in my opinion), you may want to check out the following Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Command_responsibility

It is a primer and short history of the development of what has come to be accepted as the standards for the assignment of responsibility of commanders and subordinates for actions in armed conflict.  I am not saying I agree with these "standards" or that I completely discount them. 

I think some will disregard the information entirely.  The first mention of any thought on it is attributed to Sun Tzu, and I find him to be, if nothing else, at least a diverting conversationalist.  Certainly an individual with an opinion.

There are simpler statements of differing ideas governing personal responsibility, and many people who read and post here will have views at variance with these "standards."  I provide this merely as an informational link for those who subscribe to the much repeated old saw from George Santayana, "Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it."
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: Scott on May 19, 2009, 12:28:28 pm
The Wikipedia article topic concerns a commander's responsibility for actions initiated by subordinates, specifically when those actions constitute war crimes and the commander fails to prevent or stop the action.

This is a different situation from that in the story, in which the crime was ordered by the commanding officer, and the subordinate complied after being told he would not be held responsible.
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: corwinargentus on May 19, 2009, 01:53:59 pm
Hi Scott and all -

While I certainly agree with you Scott that the article contains much information that pertains exactly to what you say, I believe there is some material that also has application to the situation in the story too.  I submit as partial evidence the following text that talks about an underling "just following orders" (see the bold type):

'The trial of Peter von Hagenbach by an ad hoc tribunal of the Holy Roman Empire in 1474, was the first “international” recognition of commanders’ obligations to act lawfully.[12][13] Hagenbach was put on trial for atrocities committed during the occupation of Breisach, found guilty of war crimes and beheaded.[14] Since he was convicted for crimes "he as a knight was deemed to have a duty to prevent" Hagenbach defended himself by arguing that he was only following orders[12][15] from the Duke of Burgundy, Charles the Bold, to whom the Holy Roman Empire had given Breisach.[16] Despite the fact there was no explicit use of a doctrine of "command responsibility" it is seen as the first trial based on this principle.[14][17]'

It is also significant to note that the article talks about a commander's obligation to act lawfully. 

This comes into play in that Harris's order to burn the Cerereans would be considered unlawful by many and in itself a war crime.  As I said, I don't believe this necessarily excuses Young for following the unlawful order, but some might view it as an extenuating circumstance that Young was conditioned through propoganda and state education to believe he had no choice and that his commander's word was law. 

We know a person is responsible for himself.  Young did not.  "Ignorance of the law is no excuse" is not a very good excuse for denying a person the chance to change his thinking.  Young had never before heard that he was responsible for his own actions.  In fact an opressive state like Terra tends to strip an individual of their responsibility.  People are dumb when they are young, and easily malleable.  He was trained up to believe he had very little control over himself, and therefore he believed he didn't.

I realize a lot of this comes under the heading of "common sense" (there I go again, claiming that elusive quality exists), but I was just trying to throw a little information out there for people to get some historical perspective on what people have thought about this topic through the ages.
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: quadibloc on May 19, 2009, 07:16:05 pm
I am hoping that someone, whether the defendant or someone else, does say something additional in his defense than what he did say... essentially the worst possible thing. If he is simply shot dead tomorrow, that will make one point - and a valid point it is - but there is something else here to think of.

He is responsible for his own actions, but what were his actions? Would the Rose family be alive today if he declined the order he received? Not unless he also relieved the late Admiral Harris of command. Does anyone really think he could have pulled that off?

So I'm hoping for nuance.
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: corwinargentus on May 19, 2009, 08:11:54 pm
In fact an opressive state like Terra tends to strip an individual of their responsibility. 

Allow me to correct myself.  The opressive state tends to strip an individual of their perception of their responsibility.  Not the responsibility itself.  That means to me, that once the victim of Terra's conditioning is faced with the reality of his responsibility he must admit to that responsibility and give further justification of his continued existence, i.e. remorse, and willingness to make whatever recompense he or she can, which in this case means placing himself at Sv Emily Rose's mercy and accepting her judgement.

I'm with you quadibloc, I hope there is more to the story... (Sandy & Co. haven't let us down so far).
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: SandySandfort on May 19, 2009, 09:01:39 pm
I am hoping that someone, whether the defendant or someone else, does say something additional in his defense than what he did say... essentially the worst possible thing. If he is simply shot dead tomorrow, that will make one point - and a valid point it is - but there is something else here to think of.

He is responsible for his own actions, but what were his actions? Would the Rose family be alive today if he declined the order he received? Not unless he also relieved the late Admiral Harris of command. Does anyone really think he could have pulled that off?

So I'm hoping for nuance.

We are here to discuss the outcome, when it comes out. You may or may not like what happens, but I stand ready to defend and explain it. There are nuances, but perhaps not the ones you are seeking.
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: NeitherRuleNorBeRuled on May 20, 2009, 12:44:38 am
We are here to discuss the outcome, when it comes out. You may or may not like what happens, but I stand ready to defend and explain it. There are nuances, but perhaps not the ones you are seeking.

BLAMM!!

So, defend and explain, already! :)
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: ConditionOne on May 20, 2009, 05:39:51 am
So....who cleans up the mess? Are there robots for that?
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: SandySandfort on May 20, 2009, 08:25:44 am
[So, defend and explain, already! :)

The explanation is obvious. Everyone has to answer for his own acts. Young was held responsible for actions. I think this went the way it should.

I will defend that position if anyone disagrees and is able to articulate what was wrong with this outcome with some specificity. This does not mean saying, "I would have done it differently." I am only interested in what you all thought I got wrong.

In anticipation of one line of inquiry, we have no reason to believe Young would have been killed if he had refused to kill the Roses (or de Leon, for that matter). How do we know this?

1) Within the story, Harris does not threaten Young when he is uneasy about murdering innocent victims. Instead, he cajoles him with a fatherly pat on the shoulder and the impossible offer to take the responsibility.

2) While not in the story, per se, it is reasonable to assume that the follow-on government to the major nation-states and the UN, would nominally have something like the US Uniform Code of Military Justice, that nominally allows military personnel to decline to follow illegal orders. And it is almost certain that UW law has rules of engagement that nominally forbid the targeting of non-combatants. I use "nominally" above, because militarily personnel in all countries commit atrocities with little or no real punishment for their crimes.
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: SandySandfort on May 20, 2009, 08:30:12 am
So....who cleans up the mess? Are there robots for that?

Emily has to stay after class with a mop and bucket... not!

Probably an undertaker and/or someone in the crime scene cleanup business takes care of the bodies and the mess. They might have robots.
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: corwinargentus on May 20, 2009, 05:23:20 pm
Sandy -

I guess I don't think you (or Emily) necessarily did anything wrong.  Given Young's lame defense, he was not sending the signals that he accepted responsibility and had remorse for his actions.  But if he had would it have made a difference?

I do think Emily acted a little hastily in Young's case.  Justice should be swift, but I don't think it should be hasty.  In its swiftness it should still be deliberate and assure that everything has been considered.  I still think perhaps a little more time should have been given Young for rebuttle or further comment/defense.  He was not going anywhere and a little more time wouldn't have hurt anything, would it?  Unless the matter was so cut and dried in your/Emily's mind that her course of action was the only "right" one.

Let me ask you this;

If Young had accepted responsibility, shown remorse, asked forgiveness, and offered whatever recompense he could/thrown himself on the mercy of the court/Emily, do you think she (or anyone on Ceres) may have spared him while still imposing some form of punishment or indenture?  Do you think YOU would spare him if he acted in the above described manner?  Why or why not?

I get from what was said by the characters in the strip that it was Emily's decision what to do with the prisoners.  She is sovereign over things that involve her to the limits of where they infringe on another's sovereignty.  If that is true, she could have done what I describe if she so desired.  I am trying to understand more clearly the lines, limits, and heart of your thoughts and beliefs on this whole matter, both as reflected in your characters, and in what you say you would do.

I am assuming there is an aspect to the Cerereans' beliefs and thought processes that takes into account the effect leaving them alive would have had on the other individuals in the settlement and the Belt.  Also mention your thoughts on how this figures into the equation, if indeed it did.
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: SandySandfort on May 20, 2009, 06:35:53 pm
I guess I don't think you (or Emily) necessarily did anything wrong.  Given Young's lame defense, he was not sending the signals that he accepted responsibility and had remorse for his actions.  But if he had would it have made a difference?

It might of, but he didn't show any contrition, only fear of dying and blame for Harris.

I do think Emily acted a little hastily in Young's case. 

How do you know? The last panel before she shoots him could have stretched out over seconds, minutes. Admittedly, a delay could have been shown by reproducing the same panel without dialog before she shoots. It's a possibility that maybe we should have considered.

Let me ask you this;

If Young had accepted responsibility, shown remorse, asked forgiveness, and offered whatever recompense he could/thrown himself on the mercy of the court/Emily, do you think she (or anyone on Ceres) may have spared him while still imposing some form of punishment or indenture? 

Nobody in the Belt (with the possible exception of de Leon's widow) would overrule Emily's decision. It was her loss, her decision. I'm not sure about Emily, though. She is a sweet kid and under any other circumstances would not hurt a fly. But he still burned her family to death. It was his actions that put him in the chair. It was much easier without any show of remorse. With remorse, maybe she would have spared him. I did not explore that possibility when I wrote it and I'm still uncertain of my character's choice if Young had seen the light.

Do you think YOU would spare him if he acted in the above described manner?  Why or why not?

That is a tough question. My guess is that most of you think I would have pulled the trigger without hesitation. Not so. I would live with whatever decision I made, but I can see that decision going either way. I am optimistic enough to believe that people can change. I am pessimistic enough to believe they rarely do. I think the issue would turn on Young's demeanor. People under threat of death will say anything. If I believed I saw true anguish and remorse in him over his crimes--not just his predicament--there is a good chance I would spare him, because I tend to be a forgiving sap. If I thought for a second, though, that he was just trying to play me and my anguish over the death of my family, I would double knee-cap him then gut shoot him. But give what Emily was given, I would have done exactly as she did.

I get from what was said by the characters in the strip that it was Emily's decision what to do with the prisoners.  She is sovereign over things that involve her to the limits of where they infringe on another's sovereignty.  If that is true, she could have done what I describe if she so desired.  I am trying to understand more clearly the lines, limits, and heart of your thoughts and beliefs on this whole matter, both as reflected in your characters, and in what you say you would do.

I wouldn't get too philosophical about this. Sure, other people might have been next on Harris' hit parade, but their number never came up. To be blunt, only Emily and de Leon had a dog in that fight. Other Belters might shun or ostracize Young (his life might be a living hell), but they would not presume to initiate force against him.

I am assuming there is an aspect to the Cerereans' beliefs and thought processes that takes into account the effect leaving them alive would have had on the other individuals in the settlement and the Belt.  Also mention your thoughts on how this figures into the equation, if indeed it did.

Not really. While altruistic punishment ( http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v415/n6868/full/415137a.html ) is generally good for society, that was not a factor in Emily's decision. She shot Harris and Young based on her own sense of justice.
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: NeitherRuleNorBeRuled on May 20, 2009, 10:34:25 pm
The explanation is obvious. Everyone has to answer for his own acts. Young was held responsible for actions. I think this went the way it should.

I will defend that position if anyone disagrees and is able to articulate what was wrong with this outcome with some specificity. This does not mean saying, "I would have done it differently." I am only interested in what you all thought I got wrong.

I don't have time for a detailed critique tonight, but here is a short critique:


The sorts of niceties that go along with a reasonable trial (I'm thinking along the lines of the original common law, before it was usurped by government, BTW) may not be very interesting in a comic; but their absence makes the results suspect.

Harris' case is pretty cut and dried.  "Yeah, I did, I wanted to do it, I'd do it again, what're you going to do about it."  The weapons officer's case is much more nuanced, and  is subject to greater criticism. 
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: SandySandfort on May 20, 2009, 10:50:35 pm
The explanation is obvious. Everyone has to answer for his own acts. Young was held responsible for actions. I think this went the way it should.

I will defend that position if anyone disagrees and is able to articulate what was wrong with this outcome with some specificity. This does not mean saying, "I would have done it differently." I am only interested in what you all thought I got wrong.

I don't have time for a detailed critique tonight, but here is a short critique:
... 

Good start. Thank you. I'll address these and other concerns mañana after a few more have rolled in and I've had a good night's sleep. I think you've anticipated some of my answers in recognizing that this is a comic strip format and details must necessarily be left out and/or assumed, but there is more to be said.
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: terry_freeman on May 21, 2009, 01:04:35 am
Technical question: what happens in very low-g when you fire a .45 acp weapon? On Terra, one leans in slightly; the force is absorbed by the mass. Eventually, it is absorbed by friction between one's soles and the floor, I suppose. Mass, of course, remains the same on Ceres., but the force of gravity is less, and the friction is less.
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: ConditionOne on May 21, 2009, 06:40:47 am
Sandy, I do appreicate the work and time contraint that goes in doing a comic strip, but NeitherRuleNorBeRule brings up several good points.  I think a golden opportunity was missed by not using the trial of Harris to illustrate more of the subtle evil mind set of the UAW and the benefits of Libertarianism. We may already have much background knowledge on these issues, but new readers will not. This trial could have been a major climax of the strip, where some of the issues discussed on this board might have been introduced.

Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: corwinargentus on May 21, 2009, 09:09:53 am
My problem lies in the circumstances surrounding Young's trial.  I don't think he was given ample opportunity to process the new information that he had a say in his actions.  He was a well-programmed cog in a perverse machine, and had never been faced with the fact of his responsibility, he was taught to believe a given order from a superior a.) left him without option and b.) relieved him of responsibility.  He was given maybe 2 minutes after seeing his superior blown away a foot to his right (just TRY thinking clearly after that) to come to terms with and overcome a lifetime of programming and propoganda.  He hadn't had the chance to think about his new freedom, he was just blown away without enough education and chance to process the lessons presented.

As I pointed out earlier, "common sense" is a learned skill.  You are not born knowing the details of right and wrong.  There is a sense of it, but education, indoctrination and propoganda warp a person's sensibilities and beliefs.  It is like a cult.

Young probably didn't have a Mom & Dad who had a neat quote framed on the wall that helped teach him to think and act independently.  His family life and his education very likely molded him into a pawn of the state.  And to anyone who says that is not possible, I say, BS.

Like it or not, some kids believe what their parents and mentors teach them, and I bet Mr. Young had really BAD mentors.

When you liberate someone from a cult, you have to deprogram them.  That takes a little time. Young was deprogrammed with a .45 slug.

Young may have proved to be only worthy of death.  If so, great.  Shoot him then.  We never really got the chance to find out.  If you want to have people believe your views, you have to take a little time to teach them your views and help them through the reactions they will have to the new information.  I realize that is what this comic and this forum is all about, but you have to be careful that the story you tell is consistent with they way you would do it in real life.  If the action in the strip is representative of the ideal functioning of libertarian principles of justice, I would not want to live in a libertarian society.  A little too precipitous and not enough value placed on life, even the life of a nominal criminal.  And no, I haven't forgotten he pulled the trigger.

Hi.  We just killed a guy right next to you.  Tell us why we should let you live.  You're free and able to decide for yourself.  You are responsible for your actions.  You have 30 seconds to process all this new information.  Sorry, wrong answer.  Bang.

Guess he won't have to worry now that he peed his pants.
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: SandySandfort on May 21, 2009, 11:12:44 am
Technical question: what happens in very low-g when you fire a .45 acp weapon? On Terra, one leans in slightly; the force is absorbed by the mass. Eventually, it is absorbed by friction between one's soles and the floor, I suppose. Mass, of course, remains the same on Ceres., but the force of gravity is less, and the friction is less.

My guess is that gravity/friction have little to do with it. Mass is the primary consideration. Since the shooter's mass remains the same, I don't think the results would be much different on Ceres than on Terra.
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: SandySandfort on May 21, 2009, 12:07:44 pm
Sandy, I do appreicate the work and time contraint that goes in doing a comic strip, but NeitherRuleNorBeRule brings up several good points.  I think a golden opportunity was missed by not using the trial of Harris to illustrate more of the subtle evil mind set of the UAW and the benefits of Libertarianism. We may already have much background knowledge on these issues, but new readers will not. This trial could have been a major climax of the strip, where some of the issues discussed on this board might have been introduced.

First and foremost, this was not a trial. Most of the complaints I have received (especially from Perry Metzger on ACT) have started out with the assumption that the disposition of Harris and Young was a trial. From this erroneous beginning, readers jump to the "lack of due process" in the "trial." These men were simply answering for the consequences of their acts. The opportunity to speak in their own defense was a courtesy. If I had wanted to write about a trial (actually arbitration) I would have done so. I may still do so. This was not a story element about how a justice system works in an anarchist society. It was about the underlying basis of libertarian thought, which is self-ownership and personal responsibility. I wanted to keep it as simple as possible. It starts out with the premises that these men did horrible things and that no external excuse (rules of war, following orders) relieves them of their responsibility.

Now let's look at some issues raised by NeitherRuleNorBeRule yesterday. (I usually take these things linearly, so if NRNBR has made further comments, I will address them as I get to them.):

    * There was no apparent investigation to determine who all bore guilt.  The other senior officers could have figured that Harris cooked his own goose, and that the junior weapons officer was a convenient scapegoat.  They might even have counseled him to use the "following orders" defense.

No, there was no investigation. However, when he had the opportunity to speak, Young clearly indicated that he had done the killing. In a movie or comic strip, some leaps of faith have to be taken. You have to assume that Reggie, Guy et alia, would not have been a party to the execution if they had not been satisfied with the information they had.

    * Killing Harris before "trying" the gunner conveniently eliminated one witness for the defense. Should have waited for the end.

As this was an execution and not a trial, so there was no witness testimony. But let me expand a bit here. Under most circumstances, we believe that a trial is a good thing before we go popping men tied to chairs. But "most circumstances" is not "all circumstances." If you cannot think of a scenario in under a minute, in which you would shoot a man tied to a chair instead of putting him through the justice system, you aren't trying. (If you really cannot think of such a situation, let me know and I will create one for you.) What this means, though, is that if you can think of any exception to the usual rule of law, then any critique that you offer can not begin with the assumption that trial-less executions are wrong, ab initio.

    * The gunner didn't have time to articulate a good defense...

Asked and answered.

    * No one apparently advised Emily that summary execution meant that she is now liable for any debts that would have otherwise been retired from the estate that might have been compensated by the now dead officers.

Huh? I have no idea what you are saying. Emily would be liable for debts? Where does that come from?

The sorts of niceties that go along with a reasonable trial... may not be very interesting in a comic; but their absence makes the results suspect.

I'm not sure why you think that would be the case. The Belt is an anarchist society, guilt was unambiguous, justice was done. As I said, perhaps I will write a story wherein Cererean customer justice is an element, but this wasn't that story. At least it provoked controversy and got readers thinking. No one is required to agree with me, so my story may make it all the more imperative in your mind that formal justice systems need to exist. You might be right.  ;)

Harris' case is pretty cut and dried.  "Yeah, I did, I wanted to do it, I'd do it again, what're you going to do about it."  The weapons officer's case is much more nuanced, and  is subject to greater criticism.

... and thoughtful discussion. I think that is a good thing.
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: SandySandfort on May 21, 2009, 12:34:18 pm
My problem lies in the circumstances surrounding Young's trial...

A courtesy is something you give of your own accord. It is not a right or claim. Young was there to be executed. He was given a chance to speak. Maybe it was insufficient time by your standards, but it could have been zero too.

I think every American who tortures and kills innocent people should pay for his crimes, not be given a pass by Obama. The same arguments you have made on Young's behalf apply just as much to the monsters. Why? Well first, because they are guilt, whether or not they were properly potty trained as a child. Second, it is absolutely necessary to change the behavior of others in the future. If you were a marine and saw fellow marines walk away free after murdering every man, woman and child in an Iraqi home and then trying to cover it up (they knew they were guilty), what would be the moral of the story to you? No, it's too bad Young bought into the propaganda he was fed by family and state, but he still most horribly murdered five people.

If the action in the strip is representative of the ideal functioning of libertarian principles of justice, I would not want to live in a libertarian society.

The action in the strip definitely represents justice. It strains credulity to think Harris and Young were not cold-blooded murders worthy of death. However, do not confuse "justice" with a "justice system." If a libertarian justice system were designed to handle all cases with summary execution, I wouldn't want to live there either. But I do recognize that self-help and personal justice are not necessarily a bad thing and that they have always existed, in every society that has ever existed. There is probably a good reason.
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: Rocketman on May 21, 2009, 01:15:37 pm
Sandy:  If it means anything that's exactly how I saw it too.  A few years ago I saw a news clip where two deputies were leading out of a courtroom a man who had been a camp counselor and had molested several young boys in his care.  The father of one of those boys had a pistol on him and when they passed by popped the pervert in the back of the head twice before the deputies could stop him.  It may have not been the law, but it was justice.  I only hope that whoever is in the jury at his trial feels the same way I do about it.
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: SandySandfort on May 21, 2009, 01:35:41 pm
Sandy:  If it means anything that's exactly how I saw it too.  A few years ago I saw a news clip where two deputies were leading out of a courtroom a man who had been a camp counselor and had molested several young boys in his care.  The father of one of those boys had a pistol on him and when they passed by popped the pervert in the back of the head twice before the deputies could stop him.  It may have not been the law, but it was justice.  I only hope that whoever is in the jury at his trial feels the same way I do about it.

If juries exercised the power of jury nullification, most of the self-help types would walk. Even as it is, they usually go for a lesser included offense and the judge usually goes light on them
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: corwinargentus on May 21, 2009, 07:38:11 pm
I just read through all the posts on both topics that contain comment on Sv Emily Rose's decisions and actions regarding Harris and Young.

Thank you Sandy for wading through my incessant, repetitive questioning, and for each and every one of your answers.  You must have been thinking, "Won't this guy EVER shut up?"

You were and are exceedingly patient and gracious.  I had a rough time of it, but I agree with you that based on what Emily had to go on, she did the right thing in both cases. 

I also appreciate your candor in answering my questions regarding if you were in the situation.  I especially appreciated your responses regarding if Young had answered differently, with true remorse and grief. 

I look forward to tomorrow's strip and future conversations. 
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: SandySandfort on May 21, 2009, 08:01:43 pm
Thank you Sandy for wading through my incessant, repetitive questioning, and for each and every one of your answers.  You must have been thinking, "Won't this guy EVER shut up?"

Uh... I appreciate thoughtful and... enthusiastic posters.

You were and are exceedingly patient and gracious.  I had a rough time of it, but I agree with you that based on what Emily had to go on, she did the right thing in both cases. 

And please understand, it was not easy for her. The thing is, she felt she had a duty to her family. She shouldered it like an adult and did what she believed was right. She will be all right.

I also appreciate your candor in answering my questions regarding if you were in the situation.  I especially appreciated your responses regarding if Young had answered differently, with true remorse and grief. 

Normally, I would decline getting too personal about myself. Because our strip generated so much controversy, though, I felt a deeper examination of my feelings and thought process could be of value in understanding what was really going on with Harris, Young and Emily.

I look forward to tomorrow's strip and future conversations. 

Same here.
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: NeitherRuleNorBeRuled on May 21, 2009, 08:55:22 pm
First and foremost, this was not a trial. Most of the complaints I have received (especially from Perry Metzger on ACT) have started out with the assumption that the disposition of Harris and Young was a trial. From this erroneous beginning, readers jump to the "lack of due process" in the "trial." These men were simply answering for the consequences of their acts. The opportunity to speak in their own defense was a courtesy. If I had wanted to write about a trial (actually arbitration) I would have done so. I may still do so. This was not a story element about how a justice system works in an anarchist society. It was about the underlying basis of libertarian thought, which is self-ownership and personal responsibility. I wanted to keep it as simple as possible. It starts out with the premises that these men did horrible things and that no external excuse (rules of war, following orders) relieves them of their responsibility.

I admit I thought it was a "trial" or "arbitration".  One thing that led me to this was the fact that this was being recorded/broadcast across the human world(s) -- it seems odd and idiotic to simply broadcast the tail end with the execution to everyone.  It may send a message to those pulling the strings in the UW, but it will leave a bad taste in the mouths of everyone else who has no background into why this is occurring.  It seems a lot like the Daniel Pearl video without some context.

Quote
Now let's look at some issues raised by NeitherRuleNorBeRule yesterday. (I usually take these things linearly, so if NRNBR has made further comments, I will address them as I get to them.):

    * There was no apparent investigation to determine who all bore guilt.  The other senior officers could have figured that Harris cooked his own goose, and that the junior weapons officer was a convenient scapegoat.  They might even have counseled him to use the "following orders" defense.

No, there was no investigation. However, when he had the opportunity to speak, Young clearly indicated that he had done the killing. In a movie or comic strip, some leaps of faith have to be taken. You have to assume that Reggie, Guy et alia, would not have been a party to the execution if they had not been satisfied with the information they had.

While Reggie, Guy, et alia, might have been satisfied, it is important for the storyteller to convince the audience that they, too, should be satisfied.  Otherwise, many of them may decide that the the protagonists aren't particularly ethical people.  Remember that eventually the audience will shell out "good(?!) paleocontinentals" :) to buy a dead tree to read this, and not have the benefit of this forum.

As it is, based on what I've seen, I'm not sure that Young is truly guilty of cold blooded murder.

Young didn't claim with any certainty that they were targeting civilians.  He said "That looks like a civilian target. Are you sure --" (emphasis mine).  The response was a quick "That's an order!" (emphasis in original).  HIs C.O. indicated that Young should go ahead -- one possible reason was (to Young) that the C.O. had (presumably) good reason to think this was not just a civilian target -- perhaps it was a camouflaged military storehouse containing S.H.'s old missing "Weapons of Mass Destruction", or the modern equivalent.  Senior officers don't always tell junior officers everything, and given that no one else on the bridge seemed to doubt this experienced seasoned "war hero", Young had some reason to believe it was OK.  The "don't worry" bit (although the frame artwork looks like Harris is about to hit Young, not reassure him") could be interpreted to mean "I know what I'm doing and it's (ethically) OK (for reasons you don't understand at the moment)".

That isn't really much of a stretch, especially when Young has only a few seconds to figure this all out.  He does a bit of follow-up (that mysterious "Sir, there's a minor fluctuation in the beam.  The area's expanding." ("something's amiss; I don't understand...") but the order is reinforced -- and no one else responds.

That's not lazy, that's quite likely a confused kid caught between a rock and a hard place and too much information to process in too little time in battle conditions (perhaps that "residence" was about to counter-attack -- Harris might be expecting that, he's so adamant!).

Admittedly, Reggie, Guy, Emily, and the rest don't know this; only the audence has that perspective.  Did they try to find out what was going on?  Or was pure bloodlust and revenge driving them?

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As this was an execution and not a trial, so there was no witness testimony. But let me expand a bit here. Under most circumstances, we believe that a trial is a good thing before we go popping men tied to chairs. But "most circumstances" is not "all circumstances." If you cannot think of a scenario in under a minute, in which you would shoot a man tied to a chair instead of putting him through the justice system, you aren't trying. (If you really cannot think of such a situation, let me know and I will create one for you.) What this means, though, is that if you can think of any exception to the usual rule of law, then any critique that you offer can not begin with the assumption that trial-less executions are wrong, ab initio.

I, for one, cannot think of any case where (a) the probable criminal is rendered helpless, and (b) there is time to consider the issues, that simply "popping" him rather than follow a trustworthy process to determine nature and degree of guilt is ethical.  Please do provide one.

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    * No one apparently advised Emily that summary execution meant that she is now liable for any debts that would have otherwise been retired from the estate that might have been compensated by the now dead officers.

Huh? I have no idea what you are saying. Emily would be liable for debts? Where does that come from?

This was something of a side issue; the result of limited time.  Consider that Emily's parents may have had outstanding debts; debts that were secured by their home.  That home is no longer there, the debtors are dead, and the debt is still outstanding.  Who pays?  Well, the perpetrators are liable for the reduction of the estate value, so the estate plus the resources of the perpetrators together is the answer.  Emily is clearly not.  However, Emily reduced the perpetrators' resources (that being their lives and knowledge); hence she is now at least partially  liable. 

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I'm not sure why you think that would be the case. The Belt is an anarchist society, guilt was unambiguous, justice was done. As I said, perhaps I will write a story wherein Cererean customer justice is an element, but this wasn't that story. At least it provoked controversy and got readers thinking. No one is required to agree with me, so my story may make it all the more imperative in your mind that formal justice systems need to exist. You might be right.  ;)

We agree they are an anarchist society.  We disagree on the ambiguity of guilt in Young's case.  In my view -- and I suspect many future readers' views -- injustice may have been done.

An anarchist society does not mean there are no rules (I recall reading that somewhere), and a form of common law will likely develop (common law originally developed without any government oversight -- it was how disputes in ports were handled among folks who recognized no common government, after all; BTW, precedent/"case law"  in such a situation isn't binding -- that's government folly.  Rather it is advisory, inasmuch as it is interpreted as "well, when Joe had a problem like this, he did X, and it seemed to work out pretty well).    It can be quite informal, and not be based reams of paper, years of study, and lists of bureaucratic red tape and loopholes as "law" is today.

It also need not be vigilantes,posse's and "string 'im up boys", a la the "wild west" mythos.

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... and thoughtful discussion. I think that is a good thing.

On this we can certainly agree; and I'm pleased that you consider this thoughtful.

One last, mostly irrelevant comment.  "Perry Metzger"?  "Perry E. Metzger"?   That's a name I haven't heard for almost 20 years!  I didn't know he was still stirring things up.  Quite a character, he.
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: SandySandfort on May 21, 2009, 10:00:04 pm
I admit I thought it was a "trial" or "arbitration".  One thing that led me to this was the fact that this was being recorded/broadcast across the human world(s) -- it seems odd and idiotic to simply broadcast the tail end with the execution to everyone. 

The tail end of what? As it wasn't a trial, the execution was not the tail-end of anything. It was the whole enchalada. One thing I have learned by working with Scott and Lee is that there is never enough time, never enough space to show everything you would like to show. Scott can tell you, I'm sure, how much exposition there is in my short stories. He does his best to express the gist of those expositions in words and action. He does a damned good job, in my opinion. We do our best to at least hit the high points. That's all I can promise you.

Having said that, I am now going to stick my foot back in my mouth. I doubt you would be happy with the prose version either. We can come up with scenarios all day long as to why Young may have thought he was shooting a military target or whatever. As a writer, I have no interest in tracking down each possible exculpatory theory. Maybe I didn't do enough. Maybe some people will be put off. Second guessing is easy. I am listening and will try to incorporate insightful comments into my future efforts. So just for the record, so we can move on, Young believed he was killing civilians, but didn't stop because he felt Harris' words absolved him from guilt. I'll try to be clearer about such issues in the future.

While Reggie, Guy, et alia, might have been satisfied, it is important for the storyteller to convince the audience that they, too, should be satisfied.  Otherwise, many of them may decide that the the protagonists aren't particularly ethical people.  Remember that eventually the audience will shell out "good(?!) paleocontinentals" :) to buy a dead tree to read this, and not have the benefit of this forum.

Sorry to be cynical, but it's a numbers game. I'm betting that most readers will not be nearly as bothered as you. Some may prefer "Old West" justice. Point is, trying to pander to every taste is impossible. Or to quote Ricky Nelson's "Garden Party"

But it's all right now, I learned my lesson well.
You see, ya can't please everyone, so ya got to please yourself


I, for one, cannot think of any case where (a) the probable criminal is rendered helpless, and (b) there is time to consider the issues, that simply "popping" him rather than follow a trustworthy process to determine nature and degree of guilt is ethical.  Please do provide one.

No can do. Once again, you are casting this in terms of it being a trial. This is an execution. Executions have no "issues" to consider.

This was something of a side issue; the result of limited time.  Consider that Emily's parents may have had outstanding debts; debts that were secured by their home.  That home is no longer there, the debtors are dead, and the debt is still outstanding.  Who pays?  Well, the perpetrators are liable for the reduction of the estate value, so the estate plus the resources of the perpetrators together is the answer.  Emily is clearly not.  However, Emily reduced the perpetrators' resources (that being their lives and knowledge); hence she is now at least partially  liable. 

Your scenario has nothing to do with how real debtor/creditor relations work in any legal system I know about. Emily's parents may have had debts, but unless she was a signatory to the loan, she has no obligation to pay. Debtors can sue the estate, but there is no estate, other than bank accounts and such. Harris and Young are not estate assets. I don't know where this idea has crept into the discussion. Suggestions about enslaving them or selling off their body parts are ludicrous.

We agree they are an anarchist society.  We disagree on the ambiguity of guilt in Young's case.  In my view -- and I suspect many future readers' views -- injustice may have been done.

Reasonable minds may differ. Some people will agree with your point of view and some will agree with my point of view. That's what makes horse races, differences of opinion.

An anarchist society does not mean there are no rules (I recall reading that somewhere), and a form of common law will likely develop...

As it has in the Belt. Most disputes are handle using customary resolution techniques, just like they are here and now. In this extraordinary case of first instance ("We don't get many murders by death ray around these here parts"), it was handled outside of the customary system, also just like it often happens here and now.

One last, mostly irrelevant comment.  "Perry Metzger"?  "Perry E. Metzger"?   That's a name I haven't heard for almost 20 years!  I didn't know he was still stirring things up.  Quite a character, he.

I don't know how many Perry Metzgers there are, but he is the libertarian/anarchist one in NYC. He runs ACT, the Anarcho-Cap group. His heart is usually in the right place, but he is an arrogant ass when he gets a bug up his butt about something. Then he uses innuendo, name calling and whatever other forms of fallacious or irrelevant arguments he can to argue his point, all in the name of logic and reason. Let's just say he and I are not on each other's Xmas card list. :(
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: NeitherRuleNorBeRuled on May 21, 2009, 11:26:21 pm
I admit I thought it was a "trial" or "arbitration".  One thing that led me to this was the fact that this was being recorded/broadcast across the human world(s) -- it seems odd and idiotic to simply broadcast the tail end with the execution to everyone. 

The tail end of what? As it wasn't a trial, the execution was not the tail-end of anything. It was the whole enchalada. One thing I have learned by working with Scott and Lee is that there is never enough time, never enough space to show everything you would like to show. Scott can tell you, I'm sure, how much exposition there is in my short stories. He does his best to express the gist of those expositions in words and action. He does a damned good job, in my opinion. We do our best to at least hit the high points. That's all I can promise you.

More than one of us can miss important detail by trying to hit the high points :)

Clearly something happened between the time Kruger agreed to surrender terms and everyone is in the room with Harris and Young, besides the party.  There was a turnover of the criminals, some bits of dialogue ("these are the two responsible.  Harris you know, and  Young here did the firing."  "Thati's it?"  "Yup."  "OK, we'll take it from here", etc.), transporting them to the execution chamber, talking to DeLeon's widow and Emily, and perhaps a few more bits.  The tail end of which was when they turned on the camera, it seems.

Imagine Joe Six-pack, sits down after a hard day's work on Mars, and sees the UW version, which portrays it like Pearl's beheading.  He's suspicious, so he finds the original, and watches the whole thing.  He sees Harris is an asshole, and Young, the piss scared out of him, say he was following orders, BANG BANG (I admit the bangs are out of sequence).  How likely is he to be pissed at the UW?

The Belters should have realized how it would look, and "staged" it differently.

Not being aware of the activities of society around them (usually rendered as "politics") is the fundamental definition of "idiotic"; as an aficionado of etymology, I chose the word with relish.

By the way, my job (Software Engineer) entails considering all these sorts of possibilities, and realizing that Murphy's Law is always at play.  My mind instinctively seeks out anomalies, cases not considered, and possible problems.  Further, I also automatically look for the simplest, most straightforward, short and elegant way to make all those go away.  I hate saying openly (it seems so self-serving) but I'm very good at it, too.  One weakness I have is I turn off my emotions when I do so, which makes me come across like an arrogant asshole if I'm not very careful, and I'm obviously not being careful enough.  I know that you are very protective of your work (as I am with mind -- I hate criticism on one hand, but value goodcriticism greatly on the other).  Please understand I do mean to be helpful, even though I know I come across like I'm shredding your baby.

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Having said that, I am now going to stick my foot back in my mouth. I doubt you would be happy with the prose version either. We can come up with scenarios all day long as to why Young may have thought he was shooting a military target or whatever. As a writer, I have no interest in tracking down each possible exculpatory theory. Maybe I didn't do enough. Maybe some people will be put off. Second guessing is easy. I am listening and will try to incorporate insightful comments into my future efforts. So just for the record, so we can move on, Young believed he was killing civilians, but didn't stop because he felt Harris' words absolved him from guilt. I'll try to be clearer about such issues in the future.

I think it could have been solved without a lot of extra steps.  One where Kruger tells Reggie, et. .al., what they did, on camera.  One more followup by Young to show he really wasn't as confused and innocent as he might have been.  Don't have Harris look like he's going to (rather literally) throw the book at Young when he says, "that's an order" (maybe the prior have Young say it is rather than looks like a civilian target).  Even a mention that Emily's folks had a good life insurance policy.

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Sorry to be cynical, but it's a numbers game. I'm betting that most readers will not be nearly as bothered as you. Some may prefer "Old West" justice. Point is, trying to pander to every taste is impossible.

I would hope you would give enough rationale to persuade statists that anarchy is reasonable and workable, without everyone being an asshole.  I would like to be comfortable recommending it to others, or giving out a copy or two.

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I, for one, cannot think of any case where (a) the probable criminal is rendered helpless, and (b) there is time to consider the issues, that simply "popping" him rather than follow a trustworthy process to determine nature and degree of guilt is ethical.  Please do provide one.

No can do. Once again, you are casting this in terms of it being a trial. This is an execution. Executions have no "issues" to consider.

Please double check the comment you originally made.  You referred to popping them rather than turning the over to a legal system  originally.  I don't think I strayed from that.

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Your scenario has nothing to do with how real debtor/creditor relations work in any legal system I know about. Emily's parents may have had debts, but unless she was a signatory to the loan, she has no obligation to pay. Debtors can sue the estate, but there is no estate, other than bank accounts and such. Harris and Young are not estate assets. I don't know where this idea has crept into the discussion. Suggestions about enslaving them or selling off their body parts are ludicrous.

I don't know any system that currently works this way; I argue that it ought to work this way.  If A owes B, and A dies, B can satisfy the debt (along with other creditors) from A's estate.  If C both kills A (leaving the estate to satisfy B) aind destroys part of the estate which would satisfy B, should B just take the loss?

 No.  B would then go after C up to the lesser of the  debt that cannot be satisfied by remaining estate, and the lost value due to C's destructive acton.

If D then unilaterally destroys all value C could provide, D then become liable for the debt.  Otherwise, D is forcing B to eat the debt.

That shouldn't be particularly controversial.

The part that is controversial is how to get C to pay.  "Bankruptcy" would go against the idea of personal responsibility, especially in the case where the debt was created by tort.  The solution is to force C (who incurred the debt) to work off as much of the debt as possible.

I contend that at its extreme, if someone has acted so heinously that execution is permitted, anything less than death that contributes to compensate the victims is permitted.  The life of the criminal is forfeit, it may be ended or used in any other way the victims see fit to compensate them.  I would agree that torturing them for torture's sake is not acceptable, but if extracting the compensation (and the criminal cannot suggest an alternative way he or she can provide the same compensation -- and costs subtract from the compensation) entail pain, injury, or death, so be it.  Their life, their liberty/sovereignty, their property is not theirs. 

As for sale of body parts, there has been quite a bit written defending it -- I recall there was an article in Reason within the past year defending it.  The claim of "ludicrous" is unfounded.

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I don't know how many Perry Metzgers there are, but he is the libertarian/anarchist ...innuendo, name calling ... to argue his point, ...in the name of logic and reason.

Yep, that's him. :P  Sounds like he hasn't changed much (except he wasn't an anarchist yet when I knew him).
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: SandySandfort on May 22, 2009, 12:53:17 am
While NeitherRuleNorBeRuled makes many good points, I feel we have reached the hair-splitting stage. I'll just say that, yes, something happened between Kruger's surrender and the execution scene. It was not addressed in detail because it would slow the pace and not address the issue of personal responsibility head-on. Maybe yes, maybe no, but that's the way it was done. "The moving finger having writ... yada, yada." When I don't like something in a movie, book or whatever, I mentally re-write it my way. Feel free to do the same.
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: wdg3rd on May 23, 2009, 06:47:53 am

  • The gunner didn't have time to articulate a good defense.  He might have noted that he had been drilled for years (even before his service) to follow orders and trust his superiors/government, that he hadn't seen an obvious cases of this being abused before, and that his error was not resolving this conflict correctly in the 15-30 seconds he had.
  • No one apparently advised Emily that summary execution meant that she is now liable for any debts that would have otherwise been retired from the estate that might have been compensated by the now dead officers.  Yes this includes slavery, medical experiments, raffling off the chance to kill or torture them, and/or medical experimentation, if it was deemed their lives and sovereignty were forfeit.

The kid pulled the trigger.  We've known since a long time before Nuremburg that "following orders" is not an adequate excuse unless G-D himself gives the order (and I'd have to question that even if He spoke to me personally, but since I'm not a televangelist He doesn't speak to me personally).  (Actually, there are are a whole lot of folk who should be in front of War Crime trials, and that includes at the least Obama's three predecessors and a lot of officers and soldiers who were "just following orders").
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: wdg3rd on May 23, 2009, 08:17:49 am
Sandy, I do appreicate the work and time contraint that goes in doing a comic strip, but NeitherRuleNorBeRule brings up several good points.  I think a golden opportunity was missed by not using the trial of Harris to illustrate more of the subtle evil mind set of the UAW and the benefits of Libertarianism. We may already have much background knowledge on these issues, but new readers will not. This trial could have been a major climax of the strip, where some of the issues discussed on this board might have been introduced.

Neil can preach (though it costs time from writing for money).  Scott can preach (though it costs time from drawing for money).  Sandy doesn't have as much street cred yet so he can't preach (yet, but he's close), and he doesn't strike me as likely want to, he's got work to do writing stuff, this libertarian stuff (which I have no problem with even though I'm an anarchist) cuts into his schedule (of doing stuff that makes money).  (Anybody around here got a problem with doing stuff that makes money and doesn't initiate force?)

If I seem a bit sarcastic here, it's because I'm not a rich noble with the petty cash to support the artists I like.  If I was a Borgia pope, these guys would be set for as long as I didn't get poisoned.
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: Azure Priest on July 31, 2009, 02:44:08 am
As to the concept that noting points to YOUNG believing his life would be in jeopardy had he refused Harris' orders, I must strongly disagree.

Let's look at Harris' record, shall we?

1.) Fried EVERYONE (who did not immediately surrender) with energy weapons in the "Aboriginal" dispute mentioned by Reggie. This may include junior officers that did not follow orders to fire.

2.) Harris hurled sexist insults at Sov Stella IN VIOLATION OF UW LAW as if knowing he would not be prosecuted. This leads to the belief that for some time, he has been "protected" from the consequences of his actions and should he feel like killing an insubordinate officer, he could do so and the authorities would "look the other way" as long as they got what they wanted. Also, while he didn't DIRECTLY threaten Sov. Stella with bodily harm, it was implied. (He was cut off by being relieved of command.)

3.) The final statement as he was arrested by the captain of "The Gamma Conqueror" was "I'll have your heads, I'll have ALL your heads." It is reasonable to presume that he meant that literally.

All that aside, there are precedents in NAVAL command code for Young to feel his life was endangered by disobeying.

"I'll take full responsibility" in military especially naval command has a very different meaning then what the young executioner understood it to mean. In the naval command, when a superior officer makes that statement, it means "I have every reason to believe the order is a legal one, you WILL comply or face the consequences." I should note that in NAVAL legal precedent, refusing to obey an order under these circumstances, Young could have been charged with PIRACY and summarily executed by Harris. I point to Naval legal precedent all the way back to the Royal British Navy prior to the very founding of the US. (So people can't just say it's an "unjust AMERICAN law.") I also see no reason why the admittedly oppressive UW government would change or override that precedent.

Young's actions in questioning the initial order to fire was all he could legally do within the framework of the command structure where he found himself. Sadly, this poor man had no opportunity to state that fact. If anyone asks "why didn't someone relieve Harris of command earlier, especially upon giving such a grievous order as firing on civilians," the answer is, until Harris deliberately and recklessly threatened the safety of the ship, even the Captain had no authority to do so. Further as far as firing upon "civilian" targets go, there is a long and bloody history of guerrilla militants and na'er do wells using civilians as "shields" to protect vital military interests. Either by disguising as or surrounding with civilian structures in such a way that an attack capable of breaching the target would inevitably harm civilians in the process. (Nazi Germany is infamous for using this technique and Hirojima may have been a major city, but was also a weapons factory and where "Kamikazee" pilots were trained. There is also some word that Japan was building its own version of "the bomb" there.)

As for marines torturing "innocent" people, we're going to require proof that they were in fact innocent. This enemy is happily disguising itself as civilians as well as taking civilians by force, strapping bombs on them and driving them into crowded shopping malls as well as packing their own children with explosives and blowing them up to kill "infidels." Sorry, but I just can't accept the premise that under Obama's predecessors, the US was the source of all evil.
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: terry_freeman on August 01, 2009, 11:02:27 pm
The willingness of tyrants to blame others for carpetbombing and unleashing nuclear weapons has a long and bloody and terrible tradition, fueled in no small degree by "purple patriots" who can justify any atrocity performed by their "own" team.
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: Azure Priest on August 03, 2009, 01:34:24 am
The willingness of tyrants to blame others for carpetbombing and unleashing nuclear weapons has a long and bloody and terrible tradition, fueled in no small degree by "purple patriots" who can justify any atrocity performed by their "own" team.


I don't think anyone's disputing that.
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: Ike on September 03, 2009, 04:44:55 pm
In the context of the killings of Harris and Young, "execution" is just another word for "revenge", straight up.  Execution is a legal killing, but even there, a large component of revenge is present.  The only justification for the use of lethal force is to prevent the imminent use of such force against yourself or another person; perhaps the protection of your property as well, but I won't argue about that as it isn't presented in the case before the bench.

From another perspective:  self-defense is the only justification for the use of deadly force against another human being.  Self-defense requires that the use of deadly force be in circumstances where not to use it would have the consequence of yourself or another person being killed.  Once Harris and Young are captives, there is no imminence, no immediacy, hence no self-defense.  To prevent the escape of a perpetrator?  Not here, as that is a statutory law doctrine created in part to shield police and private citizens from civil and criminal liability in situations where it was not entirely clear that the person was killed to prevent the crime or as he or she was committing it.  Revenge is what you do to the perp after he or she has done their dirty deed and you have them restrained and in your control to pay them back for the evil they have done.  To educate other potential perps that you won't tolerate that sort of behavior.  But it isn't justice nor is it self-defense.
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: Rocketman on September 03, 2009, 05:47:34 pm
Azure Priest make the point about "I take full responsibility..." and he is correct in it's use.  Having said that it's a pretty well known fact that one of the first things that a corrupt government like the UW typically does is rewrite laws that limit their power if not ignore them altogether when it's to their benefit to do so.  The "I take full responsibility..." may indeed mean in this context "I'm giving you an order and illegal or not, I expect you to obey it or I'll have you executed on the spot."  If you want to see a glaring example of this in a different context just read "Scalia's Catholic Betrayal" by Alan Dershowitz.  Apparently, some in the supreme court believe that if a man is convicted in a fair trial of murdering his wife, then even if his wife shows up later alive and well he's not entitled to a new trial based on the evidence that his wife is obviously alive!  Very Scary  :o
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: SandySandfort on September 03, 2009, 06:51:51 pm
In the context of the killings of Harris and Young, "execution" is just another word for "revenge", straight up...

You say it as though it were a bad thing.

Revenge is what you do to the perp after he or she has done their dirty deed and you have them restrained and in your control to pay them back for the evil they have done.  To educate other potential perps that you won't tolerate that sort of behavior.  But it isn't justice nor is it self-defense.

Actually, I think it is both. However, reasonable minds may differ. I respect your not wanting to kill people under these circumstances. You wouldn't, I would, Emily did. I don't see any moral inconsistency with the Zero Aggression Principle. YMMV
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: Ike on September 03, 2009, 07:47:49 pm
And here I thought it was called the "Non-Initiation of Force" principle.  ;)   My reading is that when you combine the Non-Agression Principle with the principle of self-defense then compare it with what happened in the story, the story does not exemplify self-defense.  It does exemplify the ordinary human desire for revenge and other base impulses which unfortunately underpin many, many of our present laws and practices.  When we act in such a way, we begin the process of becoming the thing we are fighting against.  And, yes, I am of the opinion that revenge is a bad thing as it erodes the character of one who succumbs to it.  As a retired soldier - you remember, that dreadful occupation of uncertain antecedents, entirely lacking in morality and of utterly no utility? - I know whereof I speak.  And I mean no offense, but while I am uncertain what constitutes justice, I am completely convinced that except in specific circumstances which equate with self-defense, deadly force isn't one of the constituents of it.
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: Brugle on September 03, 2009, 07:53:11 pm
But it isn't justice
The murderer was treated as he treated his victims.  How is that not justice?

Killing the murderer might or might not be revenge, depending on the motive of the killer.
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: SandySandfort on September 03, 2009, 09:15:02 pm
And here I thought it was called the "Non-Initiation of Force" principle.  ;)   My reading is that when you combine the Non-Agression Principle with the principle of self-defense then compare it with what happened in the story, the story does not exemplify self-defense.  It does exemplify the ordinary human desire for revenge and other base impulses which unfortunately underpin many, many of our present laws and practices.  When we act in such a way, we begin the process of becoming the thing we are fighting against.  And, yes, I am of the opinion that revenge is a bad thing as it erodes the character of one who succumbs to it.  As a retired soldier - you remember, that dreadful occupation of uncertain antecedents, entirely lacking in morality and of utterly no utility? - I know whereof I speak.  And I mean no offense, but while I am uncertain what constitutes justice, I am completely convinced that except in specific circumstances which equate with self-defense, deadly force isn't one of the constituents of it.

I'm not interested in getting into a long drawn-out dissection of the ZAP/NAP/NIF. However, though I do not agree with you, I think your interpretation is not unreasonable. So, I will just posit one scenario and ask you what you would do, and why. So I'm going to let you have the last word.

For this scenario, let's assume you catch an armed gang-banger in your home, whom you are able to disarm and capture. You have him tied to a chair and are about to call the police, when the perp says, "Call the police, but I'll be out in 48 hours. I will come to your home with my gang and rape, torture and kill you and your entire family. And there is nothing you can do about it. So if you are smart, you will cut me loose right now."

Do you?:

A.  Cut him loose.
B.  Call the cops and tell them about his (he will say, alleged) threat.
C.  Take him out in the woods, dig a grave, kill him with the shovel and bury the body.
D.  Other (please specify)

I certainly know what I would do, but I am wondering how you would deal with this not-so-unlikely scenario.
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: J Thomas on September 03, 2009, 10:30:52 pm

All that aside, there are precedents in NAVAL command code for Young to feel his life was endangered by disobeying.

"I'll take full responsibility" in military especially naval command has a very different meaning then what the young executioner understood it to mean. In the naval command, when a superior officer makes that statement, it means "I have every reason to believe the order is a legal one, you WILL comply or face the consequences." I should note that in NAVAL legal precedent, refusing to obey an order under these circumstances, Young could have been charged with PIRACY and summarily executed by Harris. I point to Naval legal precedent all the way back to the Royal British Navy prior to the very founding of the US. (So people can't just say it's an "unjust AMERICAN law.") I also see no reason why the admittedly oppressive UW government would change or override that precedent.

Young's actions in questioning the initial order to fire was all he could legally do within the framework of the command structure where he found himself. Sadly, this poor man had no opportunity to state that fact. If anyone asks "why didn't someone relieve Harris of command earlier, especially upon giving such a grievous order as firing on civilians," the answer is, until Harris deliberately and recklessly threatened the safety of the ship, even the Captain had no authority to do so.

Yes, military structures are built on the idea that you are safer if you follow orders than if you don't, no matter what the orders are. If you are doggedly loyal then so long as your side doesn't lose your chance of survival is much better than if you are in some way disloyal.

It follows that if you want to be free you cannot also try to maximise your chance of survival.

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Further as far as firing upon "civilian" targets go, there is a long and bloody history of guerrilla militants and na'er do wells using civilians as "shields" to protect vital military interests. Either by disguising as or surrounding with civilian structures in such a way that an attack capable of breaching the target would inevitably harm civilians in the process. (Nazi Germany is infamous for using this technique and Hirojima may have been a major city, but was also a weapons factory and where "Kamikazee" pilots were trained. There is also some word that Japan was building its own version of "the bomb" there.)

It's vaguely possible that US military intelligence did not know that the japanese nuclear effort had completely collapsed. The big value for Hiroshima was that for multiple reasons it hadn't been bombed yet, so we could get a good clear look at what damage the nuke did without having to look at previous bombing to muddy the issue. Far more important than the military justification, was the experimental value.

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As for marines torturing "innocent" people, we're going to require proof that they were in fact innocent. This enemy is happily disguising itself as civilians as well as taking civilians by force, strapping bombs on them and driving them into crowded shopping malls as well as packing their own children with explosives and blowing them up to kill "infidels." Sorry, but I just can't accept the premise that under Obama's predecessors, the US was the source of all evil.

The US military is quite capable of going to war with ROE like a football game, if that's the kind of war it happens to be. When we get into wars with truly evil opponents then it's only natural to suppose that we should be more evil than usual in response.

Better for us to stay out of that kind of war, if we can avoid it. We aren't particularly good at it, and the strain of doing things we find repellant and then going home and lying about it is not good for our troops. When we get into wars where we have to torture people -- even guilty people -- or it will make victory too difficult, we're probably going to lose regardless. Like the french in algeria. Ten percent of the algerian population died while the french played hardball, and then the french had to pull out and the algerians killed another 10% fighting each other. What good was it?

So, how long will it take us to turn things around in afghanistan? Thirty years minimum, right? And each time we get a new president there's a chance he'll choose to pull out, and that's at least 3 new presidents in that time, and more likely 6 than 3. It's a mug's game.

The only justification to stay in there and fight a dirty war is that we have to, that unless we do it, the consequences will be even worse than not doing it. Unless we rebuild afghan society, the awful result will be ....

Well, but the problem here is that our evil enemies are intimidating people into doing what they want. So we need to stop them with US soldiers, and we need to torture suspects to find out the info we need to stop them....

What if instead we just gave away weapons to anybody who wanted them. If the afghans were armed they couldn't be intimidated. Unless they were unwilling to die when facing superior firepower. But a small group of evil people couldn't intimidate the mass of the population. Except -- the afghans mostly *are* armed. What we're trying to do is set up a strong central government with a strong army and a strong police force to keep the people in line....
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: Ike on September 04, 2009, 11:54:44 am
At the risk of not playing fair, I have to say that my SOP for dealing with robbers and other specimens of criminal who break into my home does not include disarming and capturing them for the police and our so-called "justice" system to deal with them.  By the point in the episode where your hypothetical assumes I am, he would be dead - or I would be, depending upon circumstances.  Since I was able to disarm and capture him, it would seem most probable that he would be dead.

Back to playing fair:  I would kill him, even though it would not necessarily reduce the threat of his gang attempting to avenge him.  I wouldn't take him out in the woods, just kill him right there and stage it in a way to reduce the chances of being charged myself with a crime.  Bad karma?  Definitely, but my experience is that shooting one dead acts as a deterrent to the others, rather than inciting them to further acts of violence.  Best of all, of course, is to convince them in advance of any problems that you're barking mad and entirely willing to kill without hesitation or compunction.  To defeat the enemy without a battle is the height of generalship; or something like that from Lao-Tse.  I do not pretend this is justice, nor fairness nor particularly moral, but it is utterly practical and necessary in society today, where criminals are excused and given both opportunity and justification for further attacks on the rest of us.
Thank you and I'll just lurk from now on.  :-X
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: Sean Roach on September 04, 2009, 05:05:53 pm
I'd have to say that if the admiral were left alive, he'd either be a continued threat, or a drain.
You can't send him home, the people who gave him those orders wouldn't even make an example of him.  They'd give him a ticker tape parade.

As to the gunner, I'm still uncertain.  I think he could have been salvaged, or at least shipped off to someone who'd tell him what to do, but wouldn't tell him to attack Ceres.

Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: J Thomas on September 04, 2009, 08:19:37 pm
I'd have to say that if the admiral were left alive, he'd either be a continued threat, or a drain.
You can't send him home, the people who gave him those orders wouldn't even make an example of him.  They'd give him a ticker tape parade.

They don't give ticker tape parades to an admiral who loses an aircraft carrier and has 20% of his force defect to the enemy. In the best case for him he would not be forced into retirement, and would still have devoted sponsors who would get him tasks that might help rehabilitate his reputation. So he could still be dangerous.

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As to the gunner, I'm still uncertain.  I think he could have been salvaged, or at least shipped off to someone who'd tell him what to do, but wouldn't tell him to attack Ceres.

It was a cultural thing. What he said was "I was only following orders. He said he would take responsibility." He asked her not to kill him but he didn't ask for forgiveness or apologise or even say he was sorry. He didn't even say that he wouldn't do it again. Not an effective defense in a libertarian society.

This is one of the things that governments do fairly well. Without government some people fall into multi-generational feuds and vendettas, and that's bad for the society as a whole. Governments come in and reduce that. They separate the central actors from the situation for awhile and generally act to defuse the threat. To the extent that people believe some justice has been done that helps, but reducing the provocation helps more.

The OT claims that in ancient israel there were some towns set up for murderers to go live in. If you commit a murder you have to live in one of those towns for 7 years and nobody gets to kill you while you're there. You aren't in circulation encouraging your victim's relatives to kill you. So the chance of a vendetta cycle is reduced.

This glimpse of the Ceres legal system doesn't give much hint how they handle that. Somebody informally captures a murderer and ties him up, and lets him discuss it with the victim's family? All informal.... And the family member who shoots him gets no repercussions from his family? They don't informally capture her and tie her up and give him the chance to discuss it before they shoot her?

The story did a very good job of describing the parts of the society which were important in that particular context. I don't want to criticise it for not showing everything at once. At any rate, they let the survivor decide whether to kill the murderer, and presumably if there had been more than one survivor each one would have gotten the chance to kill him, and if they all declined there was somebody else on hand who would also make the choice.

My natural thought is if I killed somebody on Ceres, I'd want to shoot anybody who tried to informally capture me. I'd rather take my chances weapon in hand than be tied to a chair and talked to by a series of people who will only not kill me if it's unanimous.
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: SandySandfort on September 05, 2009, 04:51:01 pm
It was a cultural thing. What he said was "I was only following orders. He said he would take responsibility." He asked her not to kill him but he didn't ask for forgiveness or apologise or even say he was sorry. He didn't even say that he wouldn't do it again. Not an effective defense in a libertarian society.

Bingo.

This is one of the things that governments do fairly well. Without government some people fall into multi-generational feuds and vendettas, and that's bad for the society as a whole. Governments come in and reduce that. They separate the central actors from the situation for awhile and generally act to defuse the threat. To the extent that people believe some justice has been done that helps, but reducing the provocation helps more.

True. Instead, governments send you off on their own vendettas, to kill little brown people who never did you any harm at all. Private vendettas are rare in anything like an advanced society. They may kill dozens; governments kill tens of millions. lI can point to other things governments do reasonably well (at least good enough for government work), but at what cost? Government is not a Chinese menu (one from column A, one from column B...); it is a "set meal." You have to buy the whole package, eat everything on your plate and then do the dishes.

This glimpse of the Ceres legal system doesn't give much hint how they handle that. Somebody informally captures a murderer and ties him up, and lets him discuss it with the victim's family? All informal.... And the family member who shoots him gets no repercussions from his family? They don't informally capture her and tie her up and give him the chance to discuss it before they shoot her?

Here we go again; Ceres does not have a "legal system." There is no system and what does exist are not laws. I got excoriated by Perry Metzger, because Ceres didn't have "rules." He pointed out--quite correctly--that anarchy means "no rulers" not "no rules. What Perry and others have missed is that the obverse is not necessarily so. Just because anarchy can have rules, it does not follow that it must have rules. Ceres has customs and voluntary dispute resolution mechanisms and that's it. It has not "evolved" to the point of having a more sophisticated "system." Mars, by the way, does have something that looks a lot like a legal system, but it is still run along anarchist lines. I hope to show that in action in upcoming adventures.

The story did a very good job of describing the parts of the society which were important in that particular context. I don't want to criticise it for not showing everything at once. At any rate, they let the survivor decide whether to kill the murderer...

But there is no "they." So nobody let Emily Rose decide. She decided and nobody objected. Admittedly, Reggie et alia, facilitated her ability to decide, but that is just what they decided to do as their personal choices. I'm sure if Perry Metzger had been there, he would have objected and tried to stop the execution, but at the end of the day, the results probably would have been the same. What happened to the Roses could have happened to anyone. I cannot imagine a Cererean who would give a flip about Harris, and not much more about Young.

Why? Because the culture of the Belt, to the extent there is one, demands that people take personal responsibility for their actions. Kids can say, "it was his idea," but that won't carry much water with their parents. Adults who blame others get shunned, ostracized or worse.   

My natural thought is if I killed somebody on Ceres, I'd want to shoot anybody who tried to informally capture me. I'd rather take my chances weapon in hand than be tied to a chair and talked to by a series of people who will only not kill me if it's unanimous.

This was a one-off event. The justice wasn't democratic, there was no vote. Daniel's widow, was satisfied to let others do what they thought best. Of the people at the execution, probably only Reggie would have stepped up to the plate had Emily declined. BTW, he also would have killed them both. In some was the "I was only following orders" defense was worse than Harris' crime.

As it was, please note that Emily blamed Harris more. She shot him in the heart so he would feel his death happening. Young was spared that with a bullet to the brain. Personally, I would have shot them both in the head, but I'm not Emily.
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: Sean Roach on September 05, 2009, 10:02:18 pm
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They don't give ticker tape parades to an admiral who loses an aircraft carrier and has 20% of his force defect to the enemy. In the best case for him he would not be forced into retirement, and would still have devoted sponsors who would get him tasks that might help rehabilitate his reputation. So he could still be dangerous.
I wasn't saying they'd give him a ticker tape parade because he did what they asked.
I meant they'd give him a ticker tape parade as part of the spin.
Quite frankly, I doubt Harris' superiors had much to say for him either, but if your man gets beaten and humiliated, YOU get beaten and humiliated.  They'd give him a parade, he'd be a one week celebrity, then he'd be quickly shuffled off somewhere before he opened his mouth and embarrassed those who matter.  He'd be on the cover of Time, and a government speechwriter would have final review of the article, overriding the editor.

Even dead, they probably would give him a state funeral, and shout for the death of the Cererian rebels during the eulogy.  That is, if they thought they could take them.

It doesn't matter that he was a bloodthirsty egotistical nitwit.  What matters is the cost of his failure, and what could be done to minimize that.  If the only part that could be minimized was the publics negative perception of the events, then that part would be minimized.


Example.
You have an employee who, for some reason, you CAN'T fire, but who you desperately want to, (he's a screw up, he's abrasive, he's ...whatever).
He has found another potential job, and wants a reference.
For whatever reason, you know you will NEVER be called to account for any lies you say about him, that is assuming you choose to lie.

Do you.
A. write him a scathing recommendation, that either covertly or blatantly lays out his flaws, or
B. write him a glowing recommendation, that gets him to quit sooner?
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: Rocketman on September 06, 2009, 07:05:42 pm
Example.
You have an employee who, for some reason, you CAN'T fire, but who you desperately want to, (he's a screw up, he's abrasive, he's ...whatever).
He has found another potential job, and wants a reference.
For whatever reason, you know you will NEVER be called to account for any lies you say about him, that is assuming you choose to lie.

Do you.
A. write him a scathing recommendation, that either covertly or blatantly lays out his flaws, or
B. write him a glowing recommendation, that gets him to quit sooner?
 In a situation like that I would do BOTH.  Write both letters and bring him inside my office for a little chat.  I would have him read both letters and then tell him.  "Here's the deal."  "You can quit right now and you get the letter from me telling your future employers what a valuable employee you are or you can stay around and I will make your life totally miserable and when you finally have had enough and quit then the companies that are looking at you will get the letter that says that your lazy, stupid and don't even show up to work on time."   "Which do you want?"  "You've got 30 seconds to give me an answer."
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: quadibloc on September 06, 2009, 07:46:43 pm
In a situation like that I would do BOTH.

But that's not the right answer. You aren't told if it's possible to get him to change his behavior, and become a better employee, and, in fact, the statement of the problem appears to imply that this is not an option.

The point of the question seems to be: if you have an employee you would like to get rid of, but can't, then you have a choice between remaining stuck with him, or being dishonest to his future employers. Thus, the question wasn't meant to elicit an answer, it was meant to illustrate a point about how much faith one can put in employer references these days.

At least that's what I think is intended from the question as quoted. However, it is ambiguous as to whether "you can't fire him" is because you are working under some human resources process which makes it impossible to fire people... or because your business needs his continued services despite his flaws.

I am assuming the former, because in that case the question as phrased makes more sense.

EDIT: and, looking back at the full previous post, I see my perception was correct. A point was being made about how people lacking in ethics would deal with a problem to maximize benefits to their own self-interest - by covering up Admiral Harris' failure rather than punishing it - and the question was intended to give an example of the principle.
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: J Thomas on September 07, 2009, 06:41:41 am
This is one of the things that governments do fairly well. Without government some people fall into multi-generational feuds and vendettas, and that's bad for the society as a whole. Governments come in and reduce that.

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.... I can point to other things governments do reasonably well (at least good enough for government work), but at what cost? Government is not a Chinese menu (one from column A, one from column B...); it is a "set meal." You have to buy the whole package, eat everything on your plate and then do the dishes.

Certainly. I didn't mean to imply that this benefit was enough to morally justify the whole thing.

This glimpse of the Ceres legal system doesn't give much hint how they handle that. Somebody informally captures a murderer and ties him up, and lets him discuss it with the victim's family? All informal.... And the family member who shoots him gets no repercussions from his family? They don't informally capture her and tie her up and give him the chance to discuss it before they shoot her?

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Here we go again; Ceres does not have a "legal system." There is no system and what does exist are not laws. I got excoriated by Perry Metzger, because Ceres didn't have "rules." He pointed out--quite correctly--that anarchy means "no rulers" not "no rules. What Perry and others have missed is that the obverse is not necessarily so. Just because anarchy can have rules, it does not follow that it must have rules. Ceres has customs and voluntary dispute resolution mechanisms and that's it. It has not "evolved" to the point of having a more sophisticated "system."

And most of the population owes their lives to the interdependency. It takes special attitudes for that to work for generations. Like, in the USA a whole lot of people got upset about slavery, they were upset enough to kill and raid over it. The government tried to paper over the dispute as long as they could and finally broke down into civil war -- not a war created by government sending citizens away to kill little brown people, but one that the mass of the population (on both sides) wanted. The government headed off that war as long as it could against the public's wishes.

Given people who're kind of fractious it takes special dispute resolution mechanisms. It helps for people to try to mind their own business, but at some point you get the problem of perceived rights. "His neutrons are making my living space radioactive." "The backwash from his rocket contaminated my solar cells." People need to be sensitive to each other's demands even when they seem unreasonable, and yet at some point when someone seems *too* unreasonable it boils down to "what are you going to do about it", and third parties start taking sides....

Special environments breed special people. So part of what you're doing is imagining what kind of special people could make it work.

The story did a very good job of describing the parts of the society which were important in that particular context. I don't want to criticise it for not showing everything at once. At any rate, they let the survivor decide whether to kill the murderer...

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But there is no "they." So nobody let Emily Rose decide. She decided and nobody objected.

To my way of thinking there's a great big "they", and every single individual who could have intervened "let" her decide. Which says a lot about that society.

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Admittedly, Reggie et alia, facilitated her ability to decide, but that is just what they decided to do as their personal choices. I'm sure if Perry Metzger had been there, he would have objected and tried to stop the execution, but at the end of the day, the results probably would have been the same. What happened to the Roses could have happened to anyone. I cannot imagine a Cererean who would give a flip about Harris, and not much more about Young.

Agreed. If we had a setup like that with 200 million late-20th century americans, there would have been thousands of idiots who'd want to intervene, each with his own agenda. Many of them ready to kill somebody to make it come out the way they wanted. Ideally they'd fight it out among themselves....

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Why? Because the culture of the Belt, to the extent there is one, demands that people take personal responsibility for their actions. Kids can say, "it was his idea," but that won't carry much water with their parents. Adults who blame others get shunned, ostracized or worse.

That's vitally important. Also, they would have an attitude that nobody's in charge and they don't want to be in charge either. "You can't stop injustice, you can't make sure that bad things don't happen. If you keep a weather eye out you might keep some bad things from happening to you." I would expect a culture that does not stop people from keeping slaves. You might choose to assist an escaped or escaping slave -- who is acting on his own initiative -- knowing that this might cause a personal issue between you and the owner. You might go so far as to lend a gun to a slave who's ready to use one. You don't start a mass movement to kill the owners.

My natural thought is if I killed somebody on Ceres, I'd want to shoot anybody who tried to informally capture me. I'd rather take my chances weapon in hand than be tied to a chair and talked to by a series of people who will only not kill me if it's unanimous.

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This was a one-off event. The justice wasn't democratic, there was no vote. Daniel's widow, was satisfied to let others do what they thought best. Of the people at the execution, probably only Reggie would have stepped up to the plate had Emily declined. BTW, he also would have killed them both. In some was the "I was only following orders" defense was worse than Harris' crime.

I can see it. And I want to note that in a society with many thousands of people like americans, there would definitely be one who would show up to kill Harris.

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As it was, please note that Emily blamed Harris more. She shot him in the heart so he would feel his death happening. Young was spared that with a bullet to the brain. Personally, I would have shot them both in the head, but I'm not Emily.

My own thought is that if I absolutely can't live in the same world with somebody to the point that one of us has to be dead, I don't care about how they feel just before they die. I just want them gone. But I was a little surprised that she shot him so that he died so quickly, and considered it remarkable maturity on her part. Speaking as an american.
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: quadibloc on September 07, 2009, 07:46:49 am
And most of the population owes their lives to the interdependency. It takes special attitudes for that to work for generations.

Which is why most of us suffer along with governments.

I would expect a culture that does not stop people from keeping slaves. You might choose to assist an escaped or escaping slave -- who is acting on his own initiative -- knowing that this might cause a personal issue between you and the owner. You might go so far as to lend a gun to a slave who's ready to use one. You don't start a mass movement to kill the owners.

That might be consistent with the general principles on which their society is based, but slavery probably has such a bad reputation that they would make an exception in its case.

Or slavery could be impossible to tolerate for them simply because being a slave is not an excuse for denying responsibility for one's own actions... and so it, and certain other evils, are prohibited but for reasons different than those our society uses.
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: Rocketman on September 07, 2009, 02:18:42 pm
Quadibloc:  I see that your looking at this as an ethics problem, do you try to change the employee by making him a better employee or do you offer to get him out of your hair by writing him a glowing resignation letter, therefore lying to his next boss?  In today's France I have heard that they have this problem. once you hire someone there it's nearly impossible to fire them.  The problem as I see it is what is going to make the employee want to do a better job when he or she already has job security?  Remember that the government artificially makes it impossible for the law of free market principals to apply.  You can't simply fire him and hire someone that you believe will do a better job.  I believe that my eariler solution is the best of a lot of bad choices since your at least getting rid of him and depending on the individual's job and responsibilities his screw ups might end up costing you the company that you might have spent years building up.
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: dough560 on December 31, 2009, 03:50:22 am
Ike, I'm a former MP/MPI.  I appreciated your posts.  Please continue to comment.  Not just lurk.

We're both aware under current Uniform Code of Military Justice and The Law of Land Warfare, the order was illegal.  The gunner had an ethical and legal duty not to follow the illegal order.  The commander had an ethical and legal duty not to give the  illegal order.  In today's military the gunner and commander would have been subject to the death penalty in a military court.  Without incoming fire, the gunner would not have been legally subject to summary execution.  In today's system, the commander would have been tried for murder for a summary execution.  In any event, the gunner would have faced the possibility of court marshal for disobeying an order.  The court would have decided whether the order was illegal.

Were the executions self defense?  Yes.  Self defense is the defense of yourself or another facing possible death or major injury.  The commander and gunner initiated aggression and used superior weapons and position to kill helpless individuals.  Every indication is, if released with those same weapons and capabilities, they would have continued to commit similar acts.  With their executions the surviving family members and public can be assured they are in no position to continue these activities.

Under the circumstances the commander and gunner involuntarily stepped from military law, into a separate legal system.  They were not tried in a military court, but the civil system of a people they attempted to conquer. Under either system they would have been found guilty of murder.   As the man used to say, "The facts mam, just the facts".  These were established and the guilty were executed.  The manner of execution was no different or inhumane then processes used by today's military.

As to the matter of the home invader.  Once I forced the attack termination, It is my legal duty to protect the suspect until he is turned over to proper authority.  If possible I would record every word this individual makes.  Said tape or disk would go to the authorities as additional evidence.  I'm no longer a police office and have no duty to advise him of his Miranda Rights.  The more he talks, the better.  With such a recording in evidence, it is highly unlikely he will be out in 48 hours.  His gang members will very likely consider him an idiot and not take steps to defend him.

As for any additional threats against me and my family.....  This presumes he survived the initial incident.  The professional criminal class recognizes jail time as part of the game.  Amateurs and Gangsters are another matter.  They don't recognize any  power but their own or someone they fear.  One of my trainers taught us, "Make them think you are crazier then they are".  How is up to you.  No one wants to deal with a "crazy" person.

Knowledge is power and it won't take long to get his entire history and known associates.  Anyone can get information off the internet.  That and a friendly cop doesn't hurt either.  There are simple things to make you and your family hard to attack.  After that, do what you must.  With effective action, the gang will fear you.
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: SandySandfort on December 31, 2009, 08:06:40 am
IWe're both aware under current Uniform Code of Military Justice and The Law of Land Warfare, the order was illegal.  The gunner had an ethical and legal duty not to follow the illegal order.  The commander had an ethical and legal duty not to give the  illegal order...

FYI, in the EFT world, the UW UCMJ is essentially as the US version. Beyond that, however, taking those actions was morally/ethically wrong by generally accepted principles in essentially all cultures. Legality is another--and by Belter standards, irrelevant--matter.

As to the matter of the home invader... If possible I would record every word this individual makes.  Said tape or disk would go to the authorities as additional evidence.  I'm no longer a police office and have no duty to advise him of his Miranda Rights...

Almost correct. A police officer is under a positive duty to advise a suspect of his Miranda rights only if he questions the suspect (beyond simple identity questions). Any spontaneous statements by the suspect are admissible as evidence in court.
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: Rocketman on December 31, 2009, 10:41:31 am
  Amateurs and Gangsters are another matter.  They don't recognize any  power but their own or someone they fear.  One of my trainers taught us, "Make them think you are crazier then they are".  How is up to you.  No one wants to deal with a "crazy" person.

Knowledge is power and it won't take long to get his entire history and known associates.  Anyone can get information off the internet.  That and a friendly cop doesn't hurt either.  There are simple things to make you and your family hard to attack.  After that, do what you must.  With effective action, the gang will fear you.
Dough:  You are SO right there.  Gangs will stay clear of anyone that they are convinced is crazy.  The reason is because crazy people are unprediciable and are liable to do anything to retaliate.
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: wdg3rd on January 01, 2010, 01:07:39 pm
  Amateurs and Gangsters are another matter.  They don't recognize any  power but their own or someone they fear.  One of my trainers taught us, "Make them think you are crazier then they are".  How is up to you.  No one wants to deal with a "crazy" person.

Knowledge is power and it won't take long to get his entire history and known associates.  Anyone can get information off the internet.  That and a friendly cop doesn't hurt either.  There are simple things to make you and your family hard to attack.  After that, do what you must.  With effective action, the gang will fear you.
Dough:  You are SO right there.  Gangs will stay clear of anyone that they are convinced is crazy.  The reason is because crazy people are unprediciable and are liable to do anything to retaliate.

It's why any (smart) gang leader tries to have one absolute lunatic beholden to him.  Since if they pass the wrong block and the other nut-case comes roaring, there's an expendable defense.

Decades of changing buses in _really bad_ neighborhoods in Los Angeles (South Central is far from the worst), the Bay Area, NYC and North Jersey, I'm safe.  The maniacs look at me and know I will eat them for brunch (I'm not an early riser).  And these are places where I can't pack proper self-defense.  (I don't like prison any better than the next scheduled rape-victim, and in any of these places, if you defend yourself and a court finds out, you're as certain to be raped in the slammer [some gang brothers of the asshole you defended yourself from] as a baby-raper).

I would call my martial arts system "The Way of the Weasel", but Scott Adams already trademarked that.  Marvel Comics got Wolverine.  When walking around, I just put on a DON'T F+U+C+K with ME face, and they go around.  (I don't say they'll die if they mess with me, but it's a good bet it won't be by my hand if they don't).
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: wdg3rd on January 02, 2010, 09:32:50 pm
Ward, this is Lisa yur wife. Next time you use MY COMPUTER WITH WINDOWS XP, figure out how to sign out of whatever forum you are posting in, or DO NOT USE MY COMPUTER TO GO TO WEBSITES! If I can figure out where you have been, so can anyone.
Another rule, sort of like, do not drink and drive; do not post while under the influence or under lack of sleep! 
Your computer security skills are getting rusty dear, but I love you anyway.          Lisa
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: Rocketman on January 02, 2010, 11:20:00 pm

EDIT: and, looking back at the full previous post, I see my perception was correct. A point was being made about how people lacking in ethics would deal with a problem to maximize benefits to their own self-interest - by covering up Admiral Harris' failure rather than punishing it - and the question was intended to give an example of the principle.

     Hadn't noticed your "edit" before now.  In the future please start a new post rather than do an edit as I don't always look back at previous posts.  I imagine that most people don't either.
  You seem according to this post to be saying that my answer maximizes benefits to my own self interest.  Okay, that's one way to look at it.  I personally call it "rational" self interest.  The problem is things don't happen in a bubble and ethics from one person don't always transfer to the next.  It's that I realize that the employee because of the situation is unlikely to change (quite possibly he or she IS trying to do a good job and just stinks at it) or they plain just don't want to.
  If I own a factory and I hire an assembler, agree to pay them 10 dollars an hour, properly train them, and they sit around while the work piles up behind them then who is being ethical and who is not?  I've agreed to and kept my end of the bargain while they have not.  If that person is in my judgement at least trying to do the work but doesn't do it correctly, depending on the situation I might spend some time trying to retrain them but in the end that person is a liability then I don't feel bad about getting rid of them any way I can.
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: dough560 on January 03, 2010, 02:08:57 am
MP (Military Policeman)  MPI (Military Police Investigator)   Investigator's generally have above average skills before being selected for the program.  After the program.... experience comes fast and furious.

Sandy, agreed.  A serving police officer, federal agent etc... has a positive duty to protect a suspect's civil rights, except in the case of a spontaneous incriminating statement.   Miranda Rights do not have to be read at the time of  apprehension (military) or arrest (civilian), but do have to be read before questioning.  However I was pointing out, I'm no longer restrained by those duties or restrictions.  I'm free to engage....  Video cameras and shotgun-mikes can be wonderful things when used with a little fore-site.

Every group has their enforcer(s).  The trick is to identify the actual dangerous individual and not focus on the biggest loudmouth.  Many actual enforcers are the smaller guys.  When up against a larger opponent, they have nothing to loose and everything to gain.  Mutt and Jeff teams all always dangerous.

Ethics and Morals effect how we deal with individuals.  Many times the two travel hand in hand.  But not always.  When law and justice coincide, it is a happy accident.

A case sample from my military law class.  Vietnam:  Towed Howitzer 105mm  Artillery Battery being attacked by ground forces.  Specialist 4 (E-4/Corporal) tried to convince the Sargent First Class  (E-7 / SFC) in command of the Battery to Surrender to the Enemy.  SFC Refused.  SP4 turned personal weapon on SFC and tried to force surrender.  SFC promptly shot SP4 who later died.  SFC continued to command the battery, used the main guns for direct fire and beat off the attack.  Out come:  SFC Court Marshaled and convicted of Involuntary Manslaughter.  Punishment:  Fined $1.00 and given a carton of cigarettes.  Also recommended for the Silver Star.   Legally the SFC acted (during combat) in self-defense of himself and the people under his command.  Were his actions ethical and moral?  To me they were. Why did the court convict him of involuntary manslaughter?  Don't ask me.  i gave up trying to figure out courts a long time ago.

The UW Sailors stepped from one legal system where they had a chance of protection by "Higher Authority" to a legal system where "Legal Maneuvering" didn't exist and "Higher Authority" could not protect them.  Belter Law was administered and carried out.  To the Belter's, justice served.  To the UW.....

Anyone see any parallels to how we're NOT handling our prisoners at  GITMO?
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: Rocketman on January 04, 2010, 11:17:30 am
I can't figure that out either Dough.  The E-4 was in the process of disobeying a direct order from a superior and was threatening him.  There's no manslaughter involved.  The Sargent had a perfect right to shoot him.   ???
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: quadibloc on January 06, 2010, 08:23:34 am
I am doubly baffled. A conviction of involuntary manslaughter, or criminal negligence causing death, would seem inappropriate even if some blame somehow did attach to the Sergeant's actions, since there was nothing involuntary about them.
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: dough560 on January 06, 2010, 12:08:57 pm
I didn't say the case made sense.  But is was part of our case studies.  Placed in the same situation, I'd have done the same.  I do have to wonder if the E-4 was politically connected.  Still doesn't justify the verdict.

Rocketman.  Common occurrence in the military:  Call goes out for replacements.  The losing unit does NOT send their best and brightest.  They send the person or unit they can best do without.  They send the person or unit detrimental to their mission.  They can't "fire" them, so they send the problem to someone else.  Sometimes the problem corrects.  But don't bet on it.  As a squad leader or Platoon Sgt. I usually ended up with the problem children.  Some I could fix.  Some I couldn't.  Those I couldn't were eventually passed  on to someone else.  Generally when I changed jobs.
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: Rocketman on January 06, 2010, 06:34:54 pm
I've had the same problem.  When I worked at Pratt and Whitney years ago I got a couple of individuals that was assigned to me on a long term job.  One was just the biggest screw up you ever saw in your life.  "Bob" (not his real name) was so incompetent that he couldn't even get a lunch order right.  That's not an exaggeration, he really did screw up a written down lunch order of about 15 guys that had the exact amount of money for it handed to him.   Any work that he turned in was so badly done that I would spend 85% of my time instead of doing my job fixing his errors   He just didn't give a flying fig.  I was never so glad in my life when the assignment was finished and he was transferred back to the group that had "loaned" him to us.  Some loan.  We would have been better off being a man short on the job.
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: KBCraig on January 07, 2010, 10:07:05 am
A handy task for such people: fire watch. They are to sit there in a chair, not be distracted by any written or electronic entertainment, and make sure the place doesn't burn down. Even the biggest doofi can't handle it without violating their instructions, which lets you build a case for termination.
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: dough560 on January 08, 2010, 04:38:03 am
KBCraig, Unfortunately, I know of a case where such an individual had fire watch and the WWII style barracks burned down.  Not my unit, and fortunately no one died.  Several people were hurt though.

I also know of several tents burning down during field problems.  And incidents where people nearly died due to carbon monoxide poisoning during winter field operations.

People involved in these incidents, ended up assigned (permanently) to the post police call detail.  Most of them were chaptered out of the service as unable to adapt to military life.
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: Rocketman on January 08, 2010, 10:13:16 am
And rightly so.  I sure as hell wouldn't want one of them sharing a foxhole with me and having to depend on their alertness to protect me while I was sleeping.   >:(
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: wdg3rd on January 09, 2010, 12:52:47 am
I spent four years in the USAF and was honorably discharged and will state without shame that I was never able (or particularly willing) to adapt to military life -- I enlisted because I had no useful training or skills and was hungry.  I was able to fake it for much of that time.  It helped that I was the best around at fixing the instrument systems in the flying buses at Travis (C-141, C-5, the odd C-131) during those years, so they didn't give me too much bullshit.  Those two letters of reprimand did mean I didn't get a Good Conduct badge (though that was after the three year mark, so I should have got it anyway).

The two LoRs were for pure inactive Eristic situations.  Part of my OM project.  (If you haven't read "Illuminatus!", do so -- I did about the start of my three years at Travis when it was just out in the Dell trilogy).  I also did a couple of active situations that were ignored to cover up the embarrassment the brass would have suffered.

Oh, yeah, most of this was after the fall of Saigon, so I was generally screwing with a "peacetime" military bureaucracy.
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: dough560 on February 21, 2010, 05:34:19 am
Know the feeling.  People I worked with called me the "Fireman".  Whenever stuff hit the rotating osculator, I was the person to fix it.  Got a Problem, see SSG......  Unfortunately I didn't do well with politics and trusted the system to work.  I ended up with a Field Grade Article 15.  Got forced out with Clinton's Peace Initiative.  Tried the civilian job market at the time and didn't fit.  So I drove semi's several years, met a gal and got married.  After a couple of years, separation stress began effecting my marriage.  I changed careers again.  Currently I'm working for a convenient company which keeps the wife happy.  Unfortunately they are one of the better paying jobs in the area.  I have two daughters, 7 & 9 and the wife doesn't want me to go independent or change vocations again.  I know I'll never get ahead working for this company.  Their policies and my inability to kiss what some people think is an important piece of anatomy, prohibit that.  If I say with my current position with the company, the repetitive motions will leave me crippled in a few more years.

I tinker on the weekends and sometimes teach small arms.  There's a lot of competition and not enough market for me to teach full time.  One of my projects has got to the point I need to build and experiment with prototypes.  My choices are to try to limit the possibility of my idea being stolen by hiring  the machine work done at a variety of machine shops so hopefully no one can figure out what I'm doing.  Or save up the money for a table top lathe and mill combination and do the work myself.  In a lot of respects the table top unit will be less expensive and I can use it for gunsmithing  projects.  I'll get there, but it'll take time.  I've looked into restarting my bullet casting business.  I'll have to start small and completely rebuild the business in a new market.  Again it'll take time.
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: Rocketman on February 21, 2010, 11:07:38 am
Dough: I'm sure you know this already, but bullet casting as a business can have long term effects on your health even if you take the proper precautions.  In addition, it's very possible that where you living might not like what your doing and send the EPA inspectors around.  My opinion is unless you live in a fairly remote area of the state and have both automated machinery and a extremely good ventlation system it's not worth it doing it as a business.    
     As far as designing firearms goes there's an individual named Bill Holmes that can tell you about how gun companies treat independant designers.  In short, they rip them off.  He lists a couple of examples in his books.
     My advice is that if you want to do something gun related is to get a gunsmithing license from one of the better schools (several are mail order) and once you have them go to the gun shops in your area.   Get work from them until you get well known and respected and then eventually open your own shop with your own equipment and lathes.  There is work out there for individuals who know what they're doing.  Let me add one last thing.  The laws concerning independant gunsmiths not in a fixed residence may have tightened in the last few years since I looked into it.  Be careful and lawful.  The absolute last thing that you want is to have the BATFE coming after you for some minor infraction.
Title: Re: Command Responsibility
Post by: dough560 on February 21, 2010, 08:40:49 pm
Rocketman, Thanks for your concern.  The system I'm working on is intended to be interactive with gaming systems and the Army's Miles System.  We're not talking about weapons design per-say.  When I make it work, training applications will be what ever I can imagine.  The problems arise over possible existing patents and software licensing. 

I've got more than enough experience with bullet casting to know just how dangerous it is.  That's why I'm not placing it in my short list of options.  I really don't want to do it for personal use.  A friendly bullet company I know is willing to cast any bullet design I want.  I'd have to pay the mold costs for what would essentially be private product runs.  Frankly I'll go back to driving semis or expedited freight, before that.

Bill Holmes, the guy who designed what we know today as the Desert Eagle?  Believe me I know his story.  I remember reading articles about his 45 Colt prototype.

A related story. Back in the very early 80's, a friend and I designed a pistol sight.  We knew nothing about manufacturing, patents or anything else.  We were in Germany with no access to anything.   A VERY close analog of that early sight is now the Novak Sight System.    Parallel development?  I'd bet on it.  The design was just so obvious, someone would  build it.  I still wonder what if. 

I'm taking a home gunsmith course and intend to take a machinist course after this.  Following that I'll get the appropriate licenses.  A friend of mine who currently works on the NASA super gun project, laughed when I told him I wanted to go to gunsmithing school, twenty years ago.  He'd seen my wood working skills and knew about my gun knowledge.  I used to trouble shoot guns on the range and send them to him for repair when I was serving in his area and he had his own shop.  He told me then to take a machinist course and be done with it.  To do that, I would have to leave my home area.... events, precluded that option.

Believe me I know what kind of trouble is out there.  I've spent years collecting BATFE abuse stories.  BATFE just loves an easy conviction with their change daily regulations and rules.