Sunday, April 26, 2015

Forty Brave Soldiers for Christ

Some people know the account of The Forty Brave Soldiers for Christ as The Forty Martyrs of Sebaste. Rather than comment, I will let you hear the story for yourself as presented below.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Sheepdogs and Wolves in Uniform, 2

Sexual misconduct is the second highest of all complaints nationwide against police officers, representing 9.3 percent in 2010, according to an unofficial study.

In 2010, 354 of the 618 complaints involved non consensual sexual acts, and over half of those involved were minors.

Earlier this month we reported on an officer in charge of a rape case who is accused of stalking and sexually harassing the victim.

Last month Oklahoma made headlines with three serial rapists in 3 weeks, all officers, as well as one police chief molesting children.

In July, a former New York Police Department officer convicted of planning to kidnap and rape women before killing and eating them was set to go free after a federal judge overturned his conviction.
(From article, "Former Cop Headed to Trial for Raping a Child While Other Officers Watched")

Continued from "Sheepdogs and Wolves in Uniform"

(Wikimedia Commons photo by Gunnar Ries)

Violent predators in uniform: we might call them wolves in sheepdogs' clothing. And deployment overseas gives them ample opportunity to act out their sickest fantasies while operating amid the chaos of war. 

The gun and the uniform provide the wolf with the power and the illusion of legitimacy he needs to get away with his crimes. Because of expediency or ignorance, his superiors may even find his service commendable.

When the wolf in uniform returns to civilian life, he has choices to make. If he continues his sociopathic behaviors as a civilian, he risks exposure, prison or even death. But one option remains open.

Most, if not all, police departments, give preference to hiring veterans. The violent, predatory vet thus has a better-than-average chance of gaining what he wants and needs most: power over the helpless wrapped in a blanket of legitimacy. In other words, society offers him a gun and a badge.

Col. Dave Grossman makes the point that sheepdogs gravitate toward careers in law enforcement. Sadly, it's only natural for wolves, as well.

Back in the 1970's, the movie Serpico highlighted the career of an honest cop who made his stand against corruption in the New York City Police Department. Nearly 80 now, Frank Serpico has written an article about the problem of criminal officers and the police culture that protects and nurtures them.

Serpico's article unfolds against the backdrop of the recent North Charleston, SC incident in which Officer Michael Slager shot Walter Scott eight times in the back, and then he dropped his Taser near the body to bolster his claim that Scott had wrested control of it from him.

The article makes some telling points:

If you think that what happened in North Charleston is a unique case, it is not. Only recently, in another case, a policewoman in Pennsylvania first Tasered a black man, then shot him twice in the back as he lay face down in the snow. She was chasing him for an expired parking sticker. There were five seconds between shots. She said she feared for her life. It was captured on her own Taser camera.

I’ve been saying this for a long time, ever since I spoke before the Knapp Commission investigating corruption in the NYPD more than 40 years ago: Unless we create an atmosphere where the crooked cop fears the honest cop, and not the other way around, the system will never change. Unless honesty is rewarded more often than corruption, the police will lose credibility altogether. I wrote a letter to President Bill Clinton in 1994 addressing this very issue, saying that honest cops have never been rewarded, and maybe there ought to be a medal for them. He wrote back, but nothing changed.

Now, in the era of citizen videotaping, police credibility is at stake as never before. If enough testi-lying is uncovered, then who is going to believe the police even when they are telling the truth? They will be seen as crying wolf.

Until now, the shoot-first-in-fear-of-my-life mantra has eliminated any cause for concern in the taking of life by police. When a civilian commits a crime, every nuance is looked at, the better to “throw the book at” the suspect. When cops err, it is the opposite reaction. Eyes are averted, aggravating circumstances are ignored. And now the public is learning about this every time a new videotape emerges that undermines the official police story.

There is only one solution: The good cops really have to step up, and the system needs to reward them, rather than punish them. (From article: "When Cops Cry Wolf", Politico Magazine)

Okay, what's the bottom line, here? I would like to see my fellow conservative Christians adopt the following principles and apply them in the way they react, think and speak about accusations of police violence.

1) Although not all police accused of brutality are guilty, neither are all innocent. Do not automatically take up a side when accusations surface.

2) We see enough corruption in the ranks of the police to know that they will lean much further toward justifying one of their own than bringing charges against him. Do not uncritically accept official statements that justify an officer's actions.

3) Recognize that, "With great power comes great responsibility." If anything, the powers granted to an officer should require higher standards of behavior than those imposed upon the average citizen (e.g.,  If a private citizen should burn for shooting a suspect in the back, the same should hold true for law enforcement -- perhaps more so.)

4) Commit yourself to the truth rather than opposition to the other end of the political spectrum. If the knee-jerk liberals automatically assume an officer's guilt, don't take the opposite position out of misplace loyalty to your party or your ideology. Don't fall into the trap of making each individual police act a political issue. It's an issue of truth and justice, not politics.

For further reading, I recommend Frank Serpico's article, "The Police are Still Out of Control".

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Sheepdogs and Wolves in Uniform

As a youngster, I would watch a war movie and ask my dad which were the good guys. My dad, a WWII vet tried to explain to me that it's not that simple.

Consider the following quote:

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III-R) of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) indicates that the incidence of "anti-social personality disorder" (that is, sociopaths) among the general population of American males is approximately 3 percent. These sociopaths are not easily used in armies, since by their very nature they rebel against authority, but over the centuries, armies have had considerable success at bending such highly aggressive individuals to their will during wartime. So if two out of three of this 3 percent were able to accept military discipline, a hypothetical 2 percent of soldiers would, by the APA's definition, "have no remorse about the effects of their behavior on others.

. . . . The presence of aggression combined with the absence of empathy results in sociopathy. The presence of aggression combined with the presence of empathy, results in a completely different kind of individual from the sociopath. (Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, On Killing, pp. 182-183)

The foregoing passage introduces Col. Grossman's the famous and oft-quoted portion of his book that gave us the term "sheepdog" to describe the protectors among us who can kill the bad guys and still live with themselves. My barber brought me a copy of this book just a few months after its publication and said, "Here, read this. We're in here."

When I got to these pages, I knew exactly what he was talking about. My purpose in this post, however, lies in a desire to further explore the phenomenon of wolves in uniform.

(Wikimedia Commons photo by Gunnar Ries)


The U.S. has maintained its war footing in the Middle East for over a decade. Therefore, by Col. Grossman's analysis, it seems likely that the military includes up to two sociopaths out of every hundred troops. In addition, they probably field one or two sheepdogs out of every hundred deployed.

We would like to think that no one in the U.S. military would disgrace his uniform by committing war crimes and atrocities against the civilian population. Others among us would like to think that all those in the military rape, murder and torture on a daily basis.

The truth lies in the extremes. A small percentage of those fighting overseas can kill the enemy with no crisis of conscience. Up to half of that number occupy the role of sheepdog. The rest function as violent predators.

Sheepdogs and wolves both serve as critically useful assets on the battlefield. Off the front lines, however, the predators become a liability as they use the confusion of war to cover their crimes against prisoners and civilians.

In the armed forces among the 98% or so who do not kill easily, you will find as broad a spectrum of personalities as in the general population: dependable & undependable, ambitious & lazy, brave & cowardly, truthful & liars, givers and thieves, honorable & knaves. Among the 2-3% who can kill without the reprisals of conscience, you will find two basic types: protectors and predators.

Why do I bother to point this out? Because, in our polarized society, you can find hardly anyone indifferent to the military. To one side, all in uniform are heroes, while to the other, all are murderers. Conflict between these two opinions serves to further polarize society on the issue.

I assume that most of my readers lean toward associating the uniform with heroism. This simplistic view, however, can blind you to some realities that bear fearful consequences not only overseas, but at home, as well.

When we project our naive view onto all men in uniform, we set the stage for tragic consequences that include both individual victims and society at large.

(To be continued)