We discussed this one the old EF but many years ago and today's anniversary has made me think of it again. I do not want to look up how many soldiers were shot for desertion. I do know that it was a minority of all those who defected but it still happened. I know what the justification was. I also know that a good deal of the justification comes from people who were not there and had no idea of what these young men experienced.
Question: do people voluntarily join the military because they are unfeeling assholes or does the military turn them into unfeeling assholes?
I heard a bird cry, sharp and free. My name is Jordan.
Yes, I agree, that's what we would say today but had we been born 100 years earlier, in 1844 instead of 1944 in my case, our answers would proably have been very different. With today's values, we would say a blanket ban, but with values shaped by society 100 years ago, we would probably have considered the punishment to be right and just.
I suppose in a way their job is to be unfeeling, or no-one would would be able to kill anybody. But that doesn't mean they really ARE unfeeling... hence the high incidence of PTSD in ex soldiers.
I suppose the rationale behind shooting people for desertion was to make an example of them. If they didn't, they'd get huge numbers of conscripted soldiers saying '**** this for a game of soldiers' - literally. That doesn't make it right though.
These days the military are there by choice so I guess it's different.