Monday, February 22, 2010

Showdown in Oaktown: Anatomy of a Beatdown

File under: Life Lessons

When this clip first came across The Desk a few days ago, I dismissed it. I am not a big fan of reality TV or of “young punks” abusing the elderly. Therefore, I do not know what impelled me to watch the follow-up interview with the hero/victim. Well, I was wrong about what the video clip would show. In the above clip, the young man thought he smelled easy prey; however, what he caught was the lingering scent of blood and napalm from 67-year old Marine and Vietnam veteran Thomas Bruso. Therefore, unbeknownst to him and to his great peril, he foolishly picked a fight with Chuck Norris’ father. Who knows for sure whether on any other day this young man would have delivered on his copious promises of bodily harm; unfortunately, for this young man however, Pappy had indeed eaten his spinach that fateful morning. One wonders was there an opportunity for this young man to avoid the tragedy that befell him. To find out we will break down the incident moment by fateful moment:

0:46       The First Opportunity
One can only presume, Bruso did not feel like sharing one of the cans of whoop-ass he fills his satchel with every morning, so he gets up and moves to the front of the bus. As a parting gift to the young man, Bruso instead offers a lollipop in the form of a golden piece of sagely advice: “Better pissed-off than pissed-on.” Apparently, the import of this wisdom was lost on the young man.

0:50       Divine Intervention
God (the Universe or whomever you subscribe to) in a display of infinite wisdom and undeserved kindness placed on that AC Transit bus the old-school sister – someone who was wise, observant, and possessed the perfect balance of nosiness and concern. The sister has witnessed quite a few beatdowns in her time, some she no doubt delivered, and some she might have received. She was the only person within earshot who could see, read, and interpret the handwriting on the wall. The oblivious music-listener in the purple tights certainly did not have a clue as to what was about to unfold.

For that young man, the sister was uniquely qualified to be the forecaster of a storm of pain and woe. Why? This kind stranger is old enough to have been an adult during the Vietnam War. To understand the significance of that fact you must understand the nature of men and war. Men build each other up by first tearing each other down; likewise does the military build soldiers by first tearing them down, stripping them of who they are, and leaving a blank slate with which to paint the perfect portrait of a soldier. The thought is that nature abhors a vacuum, so the soldier will fill his or her void with duty, honor, dedication, and all the other good soldierly qualities. However well that philosophy worked in the days of horse, sword, and formations, in modern warfare if you send an empty vessel into hell for a meeting with the Devil you cannot be sure with what it will returned filled. The sister saw in the eyes of Thomas Bruso the same look of barely restrained composure, ever-living horror, and fractured humanity that haunted the eyes of friends and family returning from Vietnam. Many of these men take medication to keep them just barely rooted in reality. Sometimes, these men forget to take this medication, as was the case with Thomas Bruso. The sister knew you do not make these men afraid, you do not threaten them, you do not assume an aggressive posture against them, you do not stand in their blind spots, and you do not make loud noises or sudden movements around them.

0:51       Warning Signs
In nature, a particularly dangerous creature or plant will adapt specialized markings, colorations, odors, sounds, or movements to signal to a would-be predator that it is better to look for a meal elsewhere. Scientists call these adaptations aposematism. In the human world, dangerous individuals have warning mechanisms as well. First, there is the “I am a Motherf*cker,” t-shirt. While most people have a drawer full of t-shirts proclaiming all manner of vulgarity, it says something about someone who not only possesses a custom-made t-shirt with his nickname and battle cry emblazoned on it, but also wears it in public. If a person is wearing a shirt that says, “I will beat you to death,” maybe you should err on the side of caution and leave him or her be. Also avoid t-shirts that say: Army, Hoorah!, Welcome to Sniper Country, or Semper Fi. Second, did the young man not see the Yukon Ax-Murderer full-beard? Dangerous men who do not care if you know they are dangerous wear full beards (see: Chuck Norris). Finally, if someone has three or four inches on you, outweighs you by about 50 pounds, informs you they are not afraid of you, and informs you in multiple ways that he or she will cause you bodily harm if you do not leave them alone – maybe you should leave that person alone.

1:16       “Be wise, my son” – Proverbs 27:11
The old-school sister is a truly good Samaritan. She goes beyond words of warning and actually extends a protective hand to hold back the young man from his terrible fate. However, fueled by the shouts of the peanut gallery, his misguided self-righteous anger, and his infernal pride he would not hold. Sadly, “little brother” ignored the plaintive admonition to “leave that man alone.”

1:26       Out of the Mouths of Dumbasses
Perhaps one of those in the peanut gallery had a momentary forward evolution in her normally poor judgment, because she actually tells the young man that whatever he is hoping to prove or gain by confronting this obviously unwell old man is not “worth it.”

1:38       The Beginning of the End
Maybe logic was beginning to overtake pride in the young man’s mind because he wisely goes back to his seat. However, the victory is short-lived as the young man returns to the front of the bus to confront Thomas once again. This time another young female passenger implores the young man to “stop it,” but alas, he still does not listen.

1:40       The Point of No Return
Pride finally wins the battle and everything begins to go really bad for the young man, really fast. Where did the young man go wrong? The short answer is: everywhere – but let us try to break it down. First, the young man tries to strike a seated person, from a standing position while in a moving vehicle. Bad move. I can only presume this young man missed the PSA on punching someone in the face. The first punch is the only one that matters unless you have the hands speed and strength of a professional boxer, even then you should always incapacitate your opponent with the first punch. That was by far the weakest, most telegraphed punch to the chest I have ever seen. Chest?!?! Who opens with a punch to the chest, especially when you have the high ground! The young man holding the vertical handrail no doubt necessitated this ineffectual, weak opening volley, which leads into his next problem – no guards. The old-one-handed-stiff-arm does not constitute a boxing guard or a good defense, and certainly is not a barrier against the hurricane of fists that followed the young man’s failed assault.

1:43       TKO
With the coach fully stopped, Thomas “Tom Slick” Bruso goes Super Saiyan on the young lad. In professional combat sports, the referee stops the fight when there are a certain number of unanswered punches, or one fighter is unable to offer a sufficient defense or offense. That was right about here – give or take a second.

1:51       “I told you not to F*ck with me!”
This segment only indirectly has anything to do with how this young man came to rest on the floor of a public transit bus with a broken, bloody nose and no street credibility, but it is interesting nonetheless. This is something you might see in a movie, but rarely after an actual fight. Most fights involve a few furious seconds of punches followed by much posturing and acting. In the days of yore, when two men would settle their differences in a duel, each party would nominate a “second” who saw to it the duel was fair and done according to the rules. Today, seconds still exist however now their job is damage control. Seconds (i.e. your “boys”) allow just enough fighting to happen so that you appear to have stood your ground, no one is overly embarrassed (by being pummeled), or criminally liable (for beating someone to death). Rarely would you see the kind of abject defeat and submission displayed by this young man because your seconds would have broken up the fight long before your opponent owned you this totally.

3:11       The Aftermath
So you are now stumbling around the bus, talking incoherently, still making empty threats. The kind older woman, who tried save you from humiliation and pain, is the only person on your side. Your companions (?) who are now laughing at you, chime in with their two cents. I certainly hope it was well worth it for you young man.

What this video does not show is the lead in to this altercation, which apparently involves some perceived racist statements by Mr. Bruso. Unfortunately, the only witnesses on record on the internet are the idiot with the camera, and Bruso who has obvious problems with reality and potentially a history of causing a public disturbance. It is also obvious from the verbal exchange that Bruso at minimum should update his lexicon of politically correct verbiage. In this situation, both parties were wrong in different ways for different reasons. Let us tackle Bruso first.

You might ask, with some degree of indignation, why was Thomas Bruso at fault here, he was only defending himself from a younger punk with a chip on his shoulder. First, Bruso is no saint or angel. He is a psychologically troubled man with a chip of his own on his shoulder. I have been unable to locate any information that corroborates his version of events; of course that does not mean it does not exist, it just has not surfaced, as one would expect it should. Bruso probably said something to incite this incident, and apparently provoked the conversation seen at the outset of the video clip. Secondly, while no one regardless of his or her age, ethnicity, orientation, or religion should have to fear at anytime his or her safety, security, and liberty is in danger. Anyone has the right to defend themselves or their ideas and to defend such with force if the situation requires it. So was Thomas Bruso wrong for defending himself? No. Is Thomas Bruso a hero? Not hardly. Did Thomas Bruso react inappropriately to the threat at hand? Probably. Is Thomas Bruso an unhinged, undercover bigot who has a problem relating to his fellow citizens in a socially acceptable manner? Quite possibly.

To everyone who thinks Thomas Bruso is a hero, this section is not what you think. The most obvious reason the young man was wrong was that he assaulted another person without just cause. For that lone, he deserved his comeuppance. We live is a society with rules, and people like this young man who believes they are above the rules and the rules do not apply to them – well yeah, society is weary of people like you. My problem with the young man, however, is not that he assaulted Thomas Bruso, but rather that he assaulted Thomas Bruso in the name of equality and civil rights. He presented a poor argument, in a poor fashion. Finally, to prove to Thomas Bruso and all the witnesses on the bus that the young man was not all the stereotypes that Bruso thought of him, he reduces his intellectual arguments to expletives and threats of violence; well, all the stereotypes with the exception of the stereotype about physical superiority. To the young man, you set Black people back several years by showing yourself to be a brutish thug with a complex. You have no real understanding of concepts of equality; you have no respect for the dignity and freedom of others, or any respect for your elders who made it possible for you to sit freely on a bus spouting vulgarity and nonsense.

The question remains: “Why does a brother have to spit shine your shoes?” Why do we still have these problems 40 years after the civil rights movement? Had Martin Luther King, Jr. been on that bus he might have asked instead, “Sir, why do you feel a black brother should be the person who shines your shoes?” The young man presumed that Bruso was referencing a black man, when he said “boy.” King did not make assumption. King also would not have excluded the white man, who possibly erred in his speech, from amongst the ranks of “brothers,” because in fact we are all brothers. Dr. King would have taken the opportunity to enlighten Bruso and those listening on the dangers of inconsiderate speech and the importance of assigning dignity equally to all persons. King would not have gotten angry, would not have raised his voice, would not have used profanity, and would not have resorted to violence when his message fell on unreceptive ears.

No one involved with the video clip will escape unscathed. To the young woman in the peanut gallery egging on the young man, you should be ashamed. To the second young man who shouted out a racial epithet as Bruso wailed on the first young man, you should be ashamed. To the bus operator who did not stop the bus, call for order, or radio the transit police, you should be ashamed. Finally, to the videographer, you are a liar and of dubious moral character – you should be ashamed.

These blog posts are supposed to have a moral theme, we are suppose to learn something. So what did we learn? Maybe we learned that wars like Vietnam and The Second Iraq war create human casualties long after we win or lose them. Perhaps we have learned that the Veteran’s Administration needs to implement a higher standard of qualitative care for veterans. Possibly, we have learned that despite or maybe because of a Black man sitting in the Oval Office, as a nation we still have much cultural unrest and bigotry. One could also glean from the clip that a general breakdown of fundamental values is the root cause of such gross disrespect for self and others in general and the elderly specifically. Is there any one overarching lesson we should walk away with? Yes. I think the lesson we should learn is simpler than all that, and summarized in the adage:

Old age and treachery will overcome youth and skill.” Every time.

After much intrapersonal debate and a very close competition for the lead-out video clip I decided to leave you on a light note. So...enjoy.

Mama Said Knock You Out! v1.0
Uploaded by TheWandering1. - More professional, college and classic sports videos.

Follow-up: For those of you who care, Michael, the recipient of this epic beatdown, goes on the record confirming that he is in fact a dumbass.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Though Not Quite Immaculate, It Would Take a Miracle to Get Closer

File under: Survival of the Fittest

For those who believe in creation or intelligent design a powerful testament to their belief is the process of creating life; such a precarious and intricate process would not seem to be mere happenstance. Quite simply human conception works, and most times works well. In gloriously defiant spite of all odds and probability, it refuses to give up. Ectopic pregnancies, pregnancies after vasectomies, multiple births, pregnancies after menopause, pregnancies after debilitating injury – all improbable, some to the point of seeming impossibility, yet they occur. The saying, “your chances are one in a million,” like as not was coined in honor of the plucky human sperm cell. Life is truly amazing, and even though chance stacks the deck high against it, it still happens.

The following story ranks fairly close to the topic of amazing things that have come across my desk. In a bizarre tale of underage love, involving missing anatomy, cattle, and a stabbing or three the age-old myth stating you cannot get pregnant from oral sex is finally debunked. I received this article third-hand and like my predecessors, I could find no way to abstract this twisting tale of medical mystery so I too shall quote it:

The patient was a 15-year-old girl employed in a local bar. She was admitted to hospital after a knife fight involving her, a former lover and a new boyfriend. Who stabbed whom was not quite clear but all three participants in the small war were admitted with knife injuries.

The girl had some minor lacerations of the left hand and a single stab-wound in the upper abdomen. Under general anaesthesia, laparotomy was performed through an upper midline abdominal incision to reveal two holes in the stomach. These two wounds had resulted from the single stab-wound through the abdominal wall. The two defects were repaired in two layers. The stomach was noted empty at the time of surgery and no gastric contents were seen in the abdomen. Nevertheless, the abdominal cavity was lavaged with normal saline before closure. The condition of the patient improved rapidly following routine postoperative care and she was discharged home after 10 days.
Precisely 278 days later the patient was admitted again to hospital with acute, intermittent abdominal pain. Abdominal examination revealed a term pregnancy with a cephalic fetal presentation. The uterus was contracting regularly and the fetal heart was heard. Inspection of the vulva showed no vagina, only a shallow skin dimple was present below the external urethral meatus and between the labia minora. An emergency lower segment caesarean section was performed under spinal anaesthesia and a live male infant weighing 2800 g was born…

…While closing the abdominal wall, curiosity could not be contained any longer and the patient was interviewed with the help of a sympathetic nursing sister. The whole story did not become completely clear during that day but, with some subsequent inquiries, the whole saga emerged.
The patient was well aware of the fact that she had no vagina and she had started oral experiments after disappointing attempts at conventional intercourse. Just before she was stabbed in the abdomen she had practised fellatio with her new boyfriend and was caught in the act by her former lover. The fight with knives ensued. She had never had a period and there was no trace of lochia after the caesarean section. She had been worried about the increase in her abdominal size but could not believe she was pregnant although it had crossed her mind more often as her girth increased and as people around her suggested that she was pregnant. She did recall several episodes of lower abdominal pain during the previous year. The young mother, her family, and the likely father adapted themselves rapidly to the new situation and some cattle changed hands to prove that there were no hard feelings.

A plausible explanation for this pregnancy is that spermatozoa gained access to the reproductive organs via the injured gastrointestinal tract. It is known that spermatozoa do not survive long in an environment with a low pH (Jeffcoate1975), but it is also known that saliva has a high pH and that a starved person does not produce acid under normal circumstances (Bernards & Bouman 1976). It is likely that the patient became pregnant with her first or nearly first ovulation otherwise one would expect that inspissated blood in the uterus and salpinges would have made fertilization difficult. The fact that the son resembled the father excludes an even more miraculous conception.

Ha! I knew my high school health teacher was lying to me. That sperm must been the second coming of Chuck Norris, surviving in the stomach then karate kicking his way through feet of acidic intestinal track to hijack an unsuspecting egg, all with only his little flagella to push him along. That is the definition of hardcore. When 2012 rolls around, I am casting my vote for this kid as Chosen One.

In the Eye of the Bee-holder

File under: What Smart People Do When They Should Be Working

(c) 2010

How many have ever felt, on a hot summer day, that the bees just had it in for you? That somehow, the Bee Queen had marked you for harassment, bees followed you around everywhere you went, and were after you and no one else. Well, it turns out you could be right to a degree. New research conducted at Monash University and Universite de Toulousse, indicates that bees can indeed not only recognize human faces, but also recognize a real face from a fake face. Why would bees have such ability? Some might posit the ability helps bees identify sources of sugary sweetness, or to differentiate and avoid different kinds of plants and animals. I do not buy it, not for a nano-second. No, the purpose is much more sinister in nature. I think it is obvious that the bees have a plan, a nefarious plan, and I would be willing to bet that plan involves lists, hit squads (sting squads?), reduction of the human population, and eventual subjugation of humankind. It certainly explains their reclusive withdrawal from the world scene, which scientists are trying to label as Colony Collapse Disorder. If anyone from Disney Pixar is reading this, email me, this will make a great PG movie. I am thinking Samuel L. Jackson as a misanthropic bee overlord and Leonardo DiCaprio as a plucky human rebel, we can call it: “Planet of the Bees.” How about it?

Beyond knowing how our enemy operates and intercepting their plans for world dominion, you might be wondering, ‘why ever anyone funded research into determining can insects recognize human faces.’ If you are inclined to believe the bit about modeling automated facial recognition software from bee brains and law enforcement applications, then I have ten words for you: Genetically engineered, stealth cyborg killer bee kamikaze ninja assassin drones. A Mouthful? Certainly. But, ludicrous? Maybe not, consider the possibilities. The military could program hordes of bees to seek out and destroy enemies of the state wherever they hide all the while cross-pollinating the world – at the same time. It is cost-efficient, eco-friendly, and our enemies would never see it coming. These tiny, altered agents of death fitted with all sorts of modern nano-technology and bioengineered venom would be self-sufficient, self-sustaining, and they would self-destruct once their mission is complete – talk about plausible deniability. Ingenious indeed. I for one am glad they are working on this as opposed to research into human disease and aging.

The following clip has nothing to do with bees, or anything in this post except Samuel L. Jackson. However, there is nothing funnier than a dubbed-for-TV Samuel L. Jackson video clip.

PSA: What Do You Do When Your Landlord Will Not Fix Your Plumbing?

File Under: Bad Advice

(c) 2010 Bill Plympton

When you are confused and wondering what to do, remember: you can solve most problems by punching someone in the face. The one notable exception to this rule is problems created by punching someone in the face – a re-punch is ill advised. Presuming you have delivered the most comprehensive punch in the face you could muster, we recommend running in the event of punch misfire. In this light, we do not recommend punching in the face for the "speed-challenged.” Know your limits and choose targets wisely; if after punching an individual in the face you notice him or her powering up as if he or she were on Dragonball Z, then you have chosen poorly. We hope that you followed up punching someone in the face with a well-rehearsed, intimidating evil eye. However, if your victim-turned-assailant is unimpressed, you will soon find yourself in a world of hurt. Again, a re-punch is not the way to go. At this point groveling works best; therefore, practice techniques of explaining how you punching the other person were an accident, strange misunderstanding, or the result of uncontrollable full-body spasms. Running here is not beneficial; you will just be tired when you receive a beat down. Remember, life is not Grand Theft Auto – some of the pedestrians are badasses, random punching is never advisable. Punching someone in the face who is expecting it is also a bad move. Instead, try the classic pretend-to-turn-away-then-quickly-steal-on-the-other-guy move; even after thousands of years of human interpersonal conflict, this move still works. Always try to avoid “telegraphing” the punch in the face. Even Bruce Lee got owned on occasion, so keep it simple. Avoid “flashy” uppercuts and hooks, be a master of the Jab. The Jab is sufficient for your average human to get the message. Anything more and this escalates from punching someone in the face to a fight, and that is not what you want.

Additionally, NEVER try this solution on police, federal agents, judges, municipal servants, lawyers, Goodfellas (Wiseguys, Made Men, etc.), rich people, domestic partners, children, rabid animals, drug dealers, mountain lions, ninja assassins, Jedi, soldiers with PTSD, vindictive little bastards, or people with guns. We assume no liability for improper, inappropriate, untimely (whether premature or tardy), or injudicious use of this technique. Be careful not to discriminate based on race, ethnicity, age, sex, orientation, or physical ability; rather strive to be an equal opportunity sucker-puncher. You do not want a reputation for being psycho and a chauvinist bigot. Any beat downs, civil action, incarceration, or busted-caps resultant from misuse of this advice are solely the own damn fault of the end user. NOTE: Research shows punching people in the face has what appears to be a correlation with employment and relationship instability, lack of friends, a solitary lifestyle, and bouts of drunken screaming. Please, do not mix heavy exotic drug use, binge drinking, or prescription medication with punching people in the face. Finally, always when punching people in the face, please use discretion and aggress responsibly.

This message was not paid for or endorsed by anyone with common sense, and has nothing to do with the Ad Council.

If you thought the above cartoon is utterly hilarious click here to find more about the artist and his work

Monday, February 1, 2010

Sarah’s War

File under: Out of Sight, But Not Out of Mind

Sarah always considered herself a patriot, love of country and democracy was in her blood. She considered herself fortunate and proud to be an American. She was an average girl, born in an average Midwestern American town, to average Midwestern American parents. When Sarah’s parents were children the town had a successful sawmill and several neighboring farms. These days with the mill’s former customers purchasing cheaper imported lumber, the mill sits closed and eerily silent. The farms that have not foundered already are merely rotting on the vine. Most residents, who remain for one reason or another, drive 45 minutes to the work at telemarketing, fast food, and other service industry jobs in the city.

Sarah, her mother, and younger sister were such residents. When Sarah was younger, she lost her older brother to friendly fire in the Gulf War, and after generations in the family and the death of Sarah’s father, a Vietnam veteran, hard times forced the family to sell off most of the farm. Upon paying back income and property taxes, the family did not gain much on the sale. From the summer after tenth grade, Sarah worked at the local grocery store as a cashier. She knew she did not want to work there forever, thus, when Sarah graduated high school, she faced the same dilemma her brother did years before, and her father did years before that. She wanted out of this average Midwestern town – she wanted a better life. She also lacked direction or a view of the world outside of her sleepy little town. After discussing her limited options with her mother, who though not agreeing with her decision supported it, she made the same decision her brother and her father made. Sarah enlisted in the military.

The military seemed like the obvious choice. This was before September 11 when the world still made sense. The military would train her, provide her money for college, allow her to see the world, give her adventure, and most importantly, provide escape from her eventual fate had she remained in that average Midwestern town. The military prevents women from serving in “combat” roles, so she chose to become a medic, thinking she could possibly work in the hospital in the city when she completed her two years. Sarah worked diligently and served with distinction; by everyone’s account, she had the potential for a long, successful career – for a woman at least. Then September 11 happened and the world did not make sense anymore. Two years came and went; Sarah continued to serve with honor at home and abroad. When her tour was complete, the government did not need to Stop-loss Sarah, no, Sarah volunteered for additional duty. Sarah was a patriot after all and when her country needed her the most, she would be there for her country.

Halfway across the world, alone in a foreign land Sarah faced the most grueling ordeal of her life. Not from the enemy she came to fight, but from an “enemy” that came along with her. Unlike other female soldiers who always had a “buddy,” Sarah was the only female in her unit, and her fellow soldiers made her painfully aware of it. Despite her glowing record of duty and bravery, Sarah found herself constantly denigrated and harassed. Although having a non-combat, support role, Sarah’s unit frequently came under fire. Numerous times Sarah’s actions, actions that would have garnered a male soldier medals and praise, saved the lives of countless allied combatants. However, Sarah received no medals, no praise, no acceptance, and no respect. Sarah became a second-class soldier by virtue of her sex.

It is every soldiers reality that you must be always vigilant, always watching your back and the back of the soldier next to you. Sarah’s reality was no one watched her back, and she expected harm not from the enemy encountered on the streets, but from within her own “brothers” in arms. Not every soldier treated Sarah with disrespect, and of the few who did, only a few of these were more than chauvinistic towards her. Nevertheless, Sarah came to realize there was no time, whether on base or patrol, she was truly safe. Unfortunately, Sarah could not watch her back at all times. One night while her guard was down, isolated and alone, a fellow soldier cornered Sarah, brutalized her, and raped her.

Sarah was far from home, isolated, alone and now violated in an unimaginable way. Nothing in the recruiter’s presentation or brochures mentioned suffering rape for your country. There was nothing covered in basic to prepare her for this. Again, she faced a dilemma, although this time nothing in the military experience of her brother and father could provide her with any guidance. Sarah was already an outcast and now she had to decide would she complicate her terrible plight by accusing her attacker, or would she live her torment in silence? She decided, in spite of the actions of her comrades, to place her faith in her country. Sadly, when Sarah needed her country the most, her country would not be there for her.

Her commanding officer near summarily dismissed Sarah, telling her all the ways her coming forward could destroy morale for the unit. Sarah threatened with further humiliation, court martial, and ouster decided not to make any more noise about her “incident.” In the weeks to come, she would work next to her rapist on a daily basis. She no longer trusted anyone in her company or anyone in general. She carried a knife and a sidearm with her at all times, these became her friends. It is ironic, that while serving in the defense of freedom, Sarah had hers taken from her. When not on duty, Sarah was a prisoner in her own world of seclusion and shame. Remaining silent was more than she could bear any longer. She returned to her commanding officer and insisted he take action. She would not be silent, she would not submit.

Within a few days of making a formal complaint, MPs found Sarah’s dead body on base. Evidence suggests Sarah’s killer again brutalized her before executing her with a shot to the head and mutilating her corpse. The investigation of her death is unresolved, despite her family’s undying persistence in seeking justice. The soldier she originally accused of her rape received a reprimand in his file and one month in the brig; he would go on to receive a promotion before leaving the service under a normal discharge.

Military policy still officially bans women from combat roles, 90% of sexual assaults go unreported, and nearly two-thirds of soldiers actually convicted of sexual assault and rape receive punishments similar to Sarah’s assailant. Sarah is not real, but Sarah’s story is reflective of roughly a third of the women enlisted in the US Armed Services. Though there are signs of increased awareness and intention to end situations such as these, the military is recalcitrant at best when it comes to openness, investigation, and punishment of such offenses. While Sarah’s story ends, other brave women soldier on, continuing her struggle for equal station, acceptance, respect, and justice. Sadly, even in our enlightened, free, and progressive society, these goals remain elusive.