Saturday, July 14, 2012


(I put this text up as an Addendum on my very recent Post about agitation for a Military SO Registry. But since readers may already have read that Post, I am putting it up here as a free-standing Post as well. (I will have the next "Sex Panic and the Punitive State" installment up tomorrow.)

Like so much of the SO Mania Regime, there is always a curious element  of ‘coincidence’ about this Thing – ‘coincidence’ that belies the desired unthinking take-away assumption that its advocates would like you to stumble away with: that all the brouhaha is just the honest concatenation of a whole lotta real and honest victimization suddenly rising to an innocent critical-mass.

When actually, there appears to be a hefty dynamic of wheels-within-wheels and the queasy sense of ‘strategizing’.

So, in this case, it can actually be no coincidence whatsoever that on June 22 an independent documentary film, entitled “The Invisible War” was released, one which had received top-billing at the annual Human Rights Watch Film Festival (the primary themes of which for 2012 are “women’s rights, personal testimony, LGBT rights, and reporting in crises”.

That last quote is taken from a review by the usually serious, astute and insightful Stuart Klawans in the July 2/9, 2012 issue of The New Republic (pp.44-5 of the print edition; the link brings you to a subscription-only firewall).

That “personal testimony” is – but of course – a vital and lethal hallmark and fundamental operating principle of Victimist strategy and jurisprudence: echoing the early 1980s exhortation to “believe the children” first deployed widely in the Satanic Ritual Day Care Child Abuse trials of that era, which actually uses ‘children’ as a pretext and crowbar to move public opinion and – ominously – jurisprudence and legislative Findings away from a reliance on rational and careful and deliberate analysis of evidence and toward an emotional, primally limbic acceptance of whatever ‘story’ (usually a ‘horrific’ one) any self-proclaimed ‘victim’ or ‘survivor’ (with its  queasy metaphorical undertone of the Holocaust) chooses to push your way.

Carefully, Klawans makes sure to imply that all of his statements are based on the assertions and presumptions built into this documentary. But once he has covered that base, he opens up the throttle: the directors have “committed impressive resources of research, skill and moral gravity to The Invisible War” – although the moral gravity of the Victimist agenda is verrrry highly selective, and does not extend to any general morality or truthfulness, but rather only to the ‘revolutionary morality’ that whatever is good for the revolution is Good and True and whatever isn’t, isn’t.

“To judge from statistics presented in the film”, Klawans ventures shrewdly and carefully, “some 20 percent of the women who go into the US military will be sexually assaulted by the people they most trust: the servicemen with whom they live and work.”

You see here the lethal and incoherent presumptions which this Victimist Narrative requires us to presume without actually giving any of  it much thought: a) that despite decades of (male) sexual-violence horror-stories, huge numbers of ‘women’ are going into the military thinking that such purported sexual dynamics are not operative (thus that when they are assaulted sexually, it is truly a case of Innocence Treacherously Surprised – a nifty if ancient script hook); b) that the same military that provides us with so many “heroes” is (purportedly) at the same time one of the country’s largest pools of rampant sex-offending perps; c) that sex-assault is rampant in the military, although military-law has now been hugely deranged by deliberate ‘definition-creep’, whereby almost any sexual act or encounter is ‘rape’ and any woman who has had just one drink (or beer) is ‘incapable of giving consent’ (and thus any sexual-activity is ‘by definition’ rape).

And, Klawans immediately continues, “the real percentage must of course be much higher, given the daunting pressure on the victims to remain silent”. No doubt he got this pair of ideas from the film.

But the SO community is well-aware of the value of this queasy statistical gambit: on the basis of uncorroborated ‘stories’ gotten in ‘surveys’ of the most primitive (yet carefully focused) kind, which are then in their dozens of thousands compared to the actual formally reported numbers of allegations filed, the ‘extrapolation’ is quickly made that the ‘real’ number of incidents outnumbers the actual formally-reported number of incidents by a factor of 10 or 100 or 1000 or pick-your-favorite-exponent.

And of course, this bit of frakkery is explained by the ‘fact’ that the women who make the allegations are under “daunting pressure” not to make such allegations (or – if you wish – ‘reports’). Thus that there is a huge and evil (and patriarchal) organizational “culture of rape” (remember that old saw from the 1970s?) in the military.

That the military might advise allegators to be prudent lest they open themselves to charges of false-official-reporting (a serious offense itself in the military justice system); that the military is trying desperately not to have its resources diverted and attention distracted by the usual and required victimist-SO soap opera; that the military itself is aware of the incoherence by which male soldiers are now distracted from focusing on war-fighting competence not only by the ever-present distraction of females living cheek-by-jowl with them but also by the ominous awareness that any female at any time for any reason (getting out of an unpleasant assignment not being the least of them) can make an allegation and literally – by the latest regulations – ‘stop the music’ in an entire unit … none of these possibilities do the Advocates want you to consider.

And – even more slyly – Klawans stenographizes yet another interesting bit from the film: “this is not just a problem for women … men on active duty are raped too, at a lower rate but in higher absolute numbers than women”.  So, neatly, this is not just a ‘women’s issue’ because males are also raped in large numbers; but at the same time it is – but of course – more important to focus on the women’s stories. [And is male-male rape that prevalent in the military? How is rape being defined here? When did this start? And how can putatively patriarchal, macho males accept this without concomitant levels of self-defensive or vengeful violence against their rapists? Or are the males being ‘raped’ by the females? What is going on here?]
And you can see where this entire gambit has now taken hold among the new-generations of military males themselves. And all the usual reservations must apply to your assessment of the ‘crisis’.

But then – and here is the direct tie-in to this Petition – “many uniformed perpetrators retire into the civilian community unpunished, unidentified, and amply experienced in sexual predation”. All of which elements of this assertion are dubious and certainly unproven: that anyone allegated-against is truly a “perpetrator”; that they were thus worthy of formal legal punishment and yet “remain unpunished”; and that all of them are “amply experienced in sexual predation”.

But it’s a neat skein of illusions and rather strategic – simultaneously from an ideological and a political and also a commercial film-making point of view: this ties in the engorgement of the SO Mania in the military, the civilian SO Mania (now waning, at least in terms of media attention if not also in terms of the public acceptance of the Mania’s presumptions and Script), and thus will hopefully re-ignite the enabling attentions of legislators now sobering up at the prospect of costs and perhaps even consequences to the common-weal.

The entire film was itself enabled by a hugely selective example of ‘scholarship’ in a “report” concocted by retired feminist professor Helen Benedict (“The Private War of Women Soldiers”, published in 2007 on the online ‘women’s’ site, Salon Magazine). Perhaps the distraction of this ‘private war’ is part of the reason the military from top to bottom has not been more successfully focused on actually winning wars nowadays.

“The witnesses” – but of course – “are stunning in their pain and courage”. But of course nobody has any way of knowing if they are genuine “witnesses” or merely story-tellers (nor do I presume to judge; but it is vitally necessary that every such story of allegation be examined and confirmed, especially in light of the consequences demanded by the story-tellers and their Advocates). And given the still-unplumbed depths of ‘victim-friendly’ ‘reforms’ in Mania matters – whether in the civilian or military forum – what ‘courage’, really, is required? No more than is required to pull a fire alarm hook (perhaps anonymously), knowing that your action can and will never be seriously examined or questioned.

The film, Klawans reports, is (artfully) constructed and woven of “extended conversations and contextual scenes” (merely a story-spun, reinforced for dramatic effect by what are known in the trade as “dramatizations” – filmed horror-stories and nightmares, none the less limbically and emotionally seductive for their being – for all anybody knows – more ‘drama’ than ‘report’). And all of this by “survivors”, a manipulatively dishonest moniker given that nobody’s story or comments has been analyzed let alone proven.

The skein is then embroidered with a rapid sequence of  filmed “comments” by whomever the film director carefully selected for whatever telegenic reasons.

“You get an appalling sense of outrage piled upon outrage, even as the film moves along calmly and logically”, intones Klawans in a tone of hushed awe.

But of course it is “calm” because no shadow of being held-to-account darkens the brow or the conscience of the film-maker, and the “logic” is that of Goebbels: once you have accepted the grossly illogical and untruthful premises of the artfully-constructed presentation, then all secondary logic is utterly tainted and deranged, not to say perverted.

(I can’t avoid mentioning here Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s awesomely sober and rueful admonition to those among his circle and beyond it who hoped that they could somehow ‘improve’ Hitler’s and Goebbels’s Third Reich: “Once you have gotten on the wrong train, walking backwards through the cars isn’t going to help”.)

Thus, and apparently to Klawans’s satisfaction, the film demonstrates clearly and completely “how a culture of rape flourishes in the military”, based on “a twenty-year history of sexual assault scandals”. Such as the Tailhook scandal, now – twenty years or so later – revealed to be a put-up job from the get-go, and its primary ‘victims’ demonstrated to be untruthful and – let it be clearly noted – unpunished.

So you see how it works. And how even otherwise sober and acute and reliable experts in their field can be hoodwinked, or at least seduced into composing an approving encomium.

And the band plays on.

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