After watching this video, I was initially shocked at how this guy could’ve been so incredibly… inhospitable (among other things); however, after further review, this really seems like a perfect validation of the mindset that is fostered in the marine corps, and the military in general.
If there’s one motto that I’ve heard used to convey a marine’s sense of always being in the right more than any other, it’s the phrase “no better friend, no worse enemy”. The phrase is usually used to assert that marines are utter gentlemen (or ladies, since many marines are female) around innocent civilians and fellow troops, but at the same time they’re absolute badasses who could kill every generic, “Hollywood bad-guy” in the world before breakfast and without breaking a sweat.
Ok, perhaps that’s a bit of a stretch, but the phrase does obviously imply that marines are harmless to innocent people, while being lethal to “evildoers”. The obvious implication of such a claim is that individual marines have the maturity and psychological wherewithal, both to identify who is a friend and who is a foe, and to turn their aggression on and off accordingly.
But with videos such as this one – depicting a marine threatening to beat two people, one of them a fellow marine, over a fender bender – becoming more and more common, is this really a justified belief? Can we really ask people who have been subjected to the kind of mental conditioning required to turn other human beings into a dehumanized “enemy” that must be utterly destroyed, to magically be able to turn that training off?
Can we realistically say that videos like this are the product of “a few bad apples”, or is it more likely that they’re the product of a “bad barrel”? Is this marine just a jackass who has always been prone to violent outbursts at the slightest provocation? Is he just a “bad apple” in an otherwise good “barrel” known as the military? Or is this a normal man, who was MADE this way by years of being desensitized to the thought of others being anything more than an anonymous “enemy”? Is he a normal “apple” that was placed into a “bad barrel” and was MADE into a “bad apple”?
Countless psychological studies – especially the Stanford Prison Experiment – have shown the latter case to be more likely; it is far easier to be manipulated by the power of a situation than we would like to believe. It is very easy for a man to be made into a monster, or – as we see in this instance – for what was probably once a fairly calm and collected person to be made into a raving lunatic; especially when subjected to a culture that not only endorses the use of violence, but actively encourages killing other people to achieve its goals.
This knowledge does not exonerate this man for flying off the handle, but what it does show us is that the blame for such instances extends far beyond the individual committing it, to the military institution as a whole. It becomes the fault of not only the individual, but of the superiors who encourage this sort of behavior and help to create an environment that allows this sort of behavior to flourish.
The Military Police may have arrested this man, and he may be punished for his actions, but until the environment of the military institution is fundamentally altered, these individual punishments can never have the desired effect.
Safety and Peace