Archive for August 4th, 2007


The often hidden psychological effects of war…

I just read a very sad story about the brutal assault of an civilian Iraqi family in their own home.

A military jury on Friday found a soldier guilty of rape and murder in the slayings of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and her family.

Jurors deliberated much of Friday evening before convicting Army Pfc. Jesse Spielman, 22, of conspiracy to commit rape, rape, housebreaking with intent to commit rape and four counts of felony murder.

Military prosecutors did not say Spielman took part in the rape or murders, but alleged he went to the house knowing what the others intended to do and served as a lookout. Spielman had pleaded guilty on Monday to lesser charges of conspiracy to obstructing justice, arson, wrongfully touching a corpse and drinking.

 Spielman’s sister, Paige Gerlach, screamed: “I hate the government. You people put him (in Iraq) and now, this happened.” [Yahoo/AP]

It is hard to know exactly what was going on in this soldiers head while all of this was going on, but we know for sure that at the end of the incident, an Iraqi girl had been raped, and her family murdered in cold blood. The most important point about this incident is not that the brutality and heartlessness of the crime is unusual, but rather the opposite. The ability to kill without hesitation is a requirement in order to be a good soldier. In times of war this is a necessary ability. In a theater where your combatants are just as likely to be women and children, as men, you learn to kill each with the same level of efficiency. The problem however, lies in the other less salient side effects that occur as a result of this kind of conditioning.

What happens when you reach the point where you can look at someone, a race, or a demographic, and no longer see a human being? Just a soft target? Well, in war, it makes you a better soldier. But once you learn to kill people without guilt, what else might you be capable of? And will you have to moral fiber to discern the right from the wrong and act on it? We may never know the reasons Pfc. Spielman went along with all of this. But I can understand Paige Gerlachs’ hatred of the government. She and her family will be forever emotionally scarred by this incident.

But the sad fact is, though the government may have put them in Iraq and trained them to kill Iraqi men, women and children without guilt, it was not the government who made them murder that family. They were not ordered to do so. The did this of their own free will. And I’m sure they are not the only ones to have committed such war crimes. But the actions of few such out-of-control soldiers, if any, will ever be publicized, even if they are caught. And yet they will return to our soil, with this black mark upon their psyche. And that is the ultimate problem with war.

At the end of any war, you will have not only damaged your enemies population, but your own as well, both physically and psychologically. A war of any kind comes at great cost. To both sides. And unfortunately the rewards are sometimes not worth the sacrifices. It is not something to be entered easily or lightly, no matter how strong you may think you are.

Soldier found guilty of rape, murder – [Yahoo/AP]


Ice cream trucks sells coke as well…

Now i’m sure some of you have heard of (or seen) variations of this practice many, many times, and to some the idea may even be humorous to a degree. But in reality I find this practice very despicable:

An ice cream truck parked in front of a junior high school was offering up cocaine and marijuana along with the soft serve, police said.

A police search of the vehicle uncovered a loaded pistol along with the drugs, police said Friday after arresting 26-year-old Jermaine Jordan on charges including criminal possession of a weapon near a school and criminal sale of a controlled substance near a school. – [AP]

To me, the most heinous part about this is the possibility that he could have been selling drugs to kids. If an adult decides they want to spend their whole life high on drugs, you know, that is their choice. But I think it is the lowest of the low to hook a kid on any addicting substance. It’s kinda like kicking their feet out from under them before they’ve even started the race. Makes the hackles on the back of my neck stand on end…

 NYPD: Drugs Sold Out of Ice Cream Truck – [AP]


Armless Driving… Wow…

there are stories that I occaisionally run across that leave me both laughing and questioning at the same time. This happens to be one of them:

A man with no arms and one leg who wouldn’t stop driving despite a long list of traffic violations was sentenced to five years in prison Friday on felony driving and drug charges.

Wiley taught himself to drive after losing both arms and a leg in an electrical accident when he was 13. He has already spent more than three years in prison for habitually driving without a license, kicking a state trooper and other charges.

He once had a valid license, but it has been suspended several times since 1985, according to his attorney. He starts the car with his toes, shifts with his knee and steers with the stump of his left arm. He turns on the lights with his teeth.

In his most recent brush with the law last May, Wiley sped off in a Ford Explorer when police approached him at a convenience store, officials said. Officers pursued, but called off the chase after eight minutes because they did not want to put others in danger, police said. – [USA Today]

I hardly know what to say. While it is admirable that this guy taught himself how to drive in spite of his crippling accident, it is unfortunate that he had the poor judgement to use the one good leg he had left (or the prosthetic replacement for the other) to assault a police officer.

I suppose that it would be difficult for anyone to have to live with the kind of limitations this guy has had to. I’m sure I would hate to have to be tied to one place day after day. I can see why he wanted to be able to get out and about. Things like this prove that being disabled is usually a challenge of the mind. If you can overcome your own or others misconceptions about what you can and cannot do, you find that you really aren’t that limited. It’s just a pity he has so many other problems to deal with.

Armless man gets 5 years for driving – [USA Today]

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