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Outsiders Looking In

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorApril 10, 2010 2:40 AM


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It's never a pretty sight when the behaviors of subcultures are suddenly isolated and thrust into a harsh, public spotlight. In such cases, context matters, right? What's fair for climate scientists should also be for combat soldiers, right? So casting aside whatever opinion you might have of Climategate, let's say Steve Easterbrook is correct when he asserts that

the worst that can be said about the CRU emails is that the scientists sometimes come across as rude or dismissive, and say things in the emails that really aren't very nice. However, the personal email messages between senior academics in any field are frequently not very nice. We tend to be very blunt about what appears to us as ignorance, and intolerant of anything that wastes our time, or distracts us from our work.

In other words, this is the way we are. Evidently, William Connolley can't fathom the way "trigger-happy Yanks" talk while engaged in war, as revealed by the recent controversial WikiLeaks video. Here's some context Connolley might want to consider, provided by a "Yank" currently deployed in Iraq, courtesy of Andrew Sullivan:

There is no script for how one is supposed to react to systematically killing another person. Many laugh, many make macabre jokes during and after the fact and, in general, line troops revel in the death and destruction of their enemy. It's how they deal with the enormity of what they're doing. And if you or any of your readers assume for even a moment that things like that mean that they or the other hundreds of thousands of Soldiers who embrace dark humor and excess to cope with what they're doing are somehow depraved, then you need to be re-introduced to the reality. I'm here to let you know that the dialogue that took place in that cockpit was neither uncommon or, to me, even all that appalling. It was quite restrained, compared to what usually comes out of the mouths of Soldiers here when radio etiquette is not an issue.

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