Col Ted Westhusing, West Point Ethics Prof Commited Suicide

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Col Ted Westhusing, West Point Ethics Prof Commited Suicide

Post by RebLem » Tue Nov 29, 2005 2:47 am

Journey That Ended in Anguish

Col. Ted Westhusing, a military ethicist who volunteered to go to Iraq, was upset by what he saw. His apparent suicide raises questions.

By T. Christian Miller,Los Angeles Times Staff Writer, Nov 27, 2005


"War is the hardest place to make moral judgments."
Col. Ted Westhusing, Journal of Military Ethics

WASHINGTON — One hot, dusty day in June, Col. Ted Westhusing was found dead in a trailer at a military base near the Baghdad airport, a single gunshot wound to the head.

The Army would conclude that he committed suicide with his service pistol. At the time, he was the highest-ranking officer to die in Iraq.

The Army closed its case. But the questions surrounding Westhusing's death continue.

Westhusing, 44, was no ordinary officer. He was one of the Army's leading scholars of military ethics, a full professor at West Point who volunteered to serve in Iraq to be able to better teach his students. He had a doctorate in philosophy; his dissertation was an extended meditation on the meaning of honor.

So it was only natural that Westhusing acted when he learned of possible corruption by U.S. contractors in Iraq. A few weeks before he died, Westhusing received an anonymous complaint that a private security company he oversaw had cheated the U.S. government and committed human rights violations. Westhusing confronted the contractor and reported the concerns to superiors, who launched an investigation.

In e-mails to his family, Westhusing seemed especially upset by one conclusion he had reached: that traditional military values such as duty, honor and country had been replaced by profit motives in Iraq, where the U.S. had come to rely heavily on contractors for jobs once done by the military.

His death stunned all who knew him. Colleagues and commanders wondered whether they had missed signs of depression. He had been losing weight and not sleeping well. But only a day before his death, Westhusing won praise from a senior officer for his progress in training Iraqi police.

His friends and family struggle with the idea that Westhusing could have killed himself. He was a loving father and husband and a devout Catholic. He was an extraordinary intellect and had mastered ancient Greek and Italian. He had less than a month before his return home. It seemed impossible that anything could crush the spirit of a man with such a powerful sense of right and wrong.

On the Internet and in conversations with one another, Westhusing's family and friends have questioned the military investigation.

A note found in his trailer seemed to offer clues. Written in what the Army determined was his handwriting, the colonel appeared to be struggling with a final question.

How is honor possible in a war like the one in Iraq?

Even at Jenks High School in suburban Tulsa, one of the biggest in Oklahoma, Westhusing stood out. He was starting point guard for the Trojans, a team that made a strong run for the state basketball championship his senior year. He was a National Merit Scholarship finalist. He was an officer in a fellowship of Christian athletes.

Joe Holladay, who coached Westhusing before going on to become assistant coach of the University of North Carolina Tarheels, recalled Westhusing showing up at the gym at 7 a.m. to get in 100 extra practice shots.

"There was never a question of how hard he played or how much effort he put into something," Holladay said. "Whatever he did, he did well. He was the cream of the crop."

When Westhusing entered West Point in 1979, the tradition-bound institution was just emerging from a cheating scandal that had shamed the Army. Restoring honor to the nation's preeminent incubator for Army leadership was the focus of the day.

Cadets are taught to value duty, honor and country, and are drilled in West Point's strict moral code: A cadet will not lie, cheat or steal — or tolerate those who do.

Westhusing embraced it. He was selected as honor captain for the entire academy his senior year. Col. Tim Trainor, a classmate and currently a West Point professor, said Westhusing was strict but sympathetic to cadets' problems. He remembered him as "introspective."

Westhusing graduated third in his class in 1983 and became an infantry platoon leader. He received special forces training, served in Italy, South Korea and Honduras, and eventually became division operations officer for the 82nd Airborne, based at Ft. Bragg, N.C.

He loved commanding soldiers. But he remained drawn to intellectual pursuits.

In 2000, Westhusing enrolled in Emory University's doctoral philosophy program. The idea was to return to West Point to teach future leaders.

He immediately stood out on the leafy Atlanta campus. Married with children, he was surrounded by young, single students. He was a deeply faithful Christian in a graduate program of professional skeptics.

Plunged into academia, Westhusing held fast to his military ties. Students and professors recalled him jogging up steep hills in combat boots and camouflage, his rucksack full, to stay in shape. He wrote a paper challenging an essay that questioned the morality of patriotism.

"He was as straight an arrow as you would possibly find," said Aaron Fichtelberg, a fellow student and now a professor at the University of Delaware. "He seemed unshakable."

In his 352-page dissertation, Westhusing discussed the ethics of war, focusing on examples of military honor from Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee to the Israeli army. It is a dense, searching and sometimes personal effort to define what, exactly, constitutes virtuous conduct in the context of the modern U.S. military.

"Born to be a warrior, I desire these answers not just for philosophical reasons, but for self-knowledge," he wrote in the opening pages.

As planned, Westhusing returned to teach philosophy and English at West Point as a full professor with a guaranteed lifetime assignment. He settled into life on campus with his wife, Michelle, and their three young children.

But amid the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, he told friends that he felt experience in Iraq would help him in teaching cadets. In the fall of 2004, he volunteered for duty.

"He wanted to serve, he wanted to use his skills, maybe he wanted some glory," recalled Nick Fotion, his advisor at Emory. "He wanted to go."

In January, Westhusing began work on what the Pentagon considered the most important mission in Iraq: training Iraqi forces to take over security duties from U.S. troops.

Westhusing's task was to oversee a private security company, Virginia-based USIS, which had contracts worth $79 million to train a corps of Iraqi police to conduct special operations.

In March, Gen. David Petraeus, commanding officer of the Iraqi training mission, praised Westhusing's performance, saying he had exceeded "lofty expectations."

"Thanks much, sir, but we can do much better and will," Westhusing wrote back, according to a copy of the Army investigation of his death that was obtained by The Times.

In April, his mood seemed to have darkened. He worried over delays in training one of the police battalions.

Then, in May, Westhusing received an anonymous four-page letter that contained detailed allegations of wrongdoing by USIS.

The writer accused USIS of deliberately shorting the government on the number of trainers to increase its profit margin. More seriously, the writer detailed two incidents in which USIS contractors allegedly had witnessed or participated in the killing of Iraqis.

A USIS contractor accompanied Iraqi police trainees during the assault on Fallouja last November and later boasted about the number of insurgents he had killed, the letter says. Private security contractors are not allowed to conduct offensive operations.

In a second incident, the letter says, a USIS employee saw Iraqi police trainees kill two innocent Iraqi civilians, then covered it up. A USIS manager "did not want it reported because he thought it would put his contract at risk."

Westhusing reported the allegations to his superiors but told one of them, Gen. Joseph Fil, that he believed USIS was complying with the terms of its contract.

U.S. officials investigated and found "no contractual violations," an Army spokesman said. Bill Winter, a USIS spokesman, said the investigation "found these allegations to be unfounded."

However, several U.S. officials said inquiries on USIS were ongoing. One U.S. military official, who, like others, requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case, said the inquiries had turned up problems, but nothing to support the more serious charges of human rights violations.

"As is typical, there may be a wisp of truth in each of the allegations," the official said.

The letter shook Westhusing, who felt personally implicated by accusations that he was too friendly with USIS management, according to an e-mail in the report.

"This is a mess … dunno what I will do with this," he wrote home to his family May 18.

The colonel began to complain to colleagues about "his dislike of the contractors," who, he said, "were paid too much money by the government," according to one captain.

"The meetings [with contractors] were never easy and always contentious. The contracts were in dispute and always under discussion," an Army Corps of Engineers official told investigators.

By June, some of Westhusing's colleagues had begun to worry about his health. They later told investigators that he had lost weight and begun fidgeting, sometimes staring off into space. He seemed withdrawn, they said.

His family was also becoming worried. He described feeling alone and abandoned. He sent home brief, cryptic e-mails, including one that said, " didn't think I'd make it last night." He talked of resigning his command.

Westhusing brushed aside entreaties for details, writing that he would say more when he returned home. The family responded with an outpouring of e-mails expressing love and support.

His wife recalled a phone conversation that chilled her two weeks before his death.

"I heard something in his voice," she told investigators, according to a transcript of the interview. "In Ted's voice, there was fear. He did not like the nighttime and being alone."

Westhusing's father, Keith, said the family did not want to comment for this article.

On June 4, Westhusing left his office in the U.S.-controlled Green Zone of Baghdad to view a demonstration of Iraqi police preparedness at Camp Dublin, the USIS headquarters at the airport. He gave a briefing that impressed Petraeus and a visiting scholar. He stayed overnight at the USIS camp.

That night in his office, a USIS secretary would later tell investigators, she watched Westhusing take out his 9-millimeter pistol and "play" with it, repeatedly unholstering the weapon.

At a meeting the next morning to discuss construction delays, he seemed agitated. He stewed over demands for tighter vetting of police candidates, worried that it would slow the mission. He seemed upset over funding shortfalls.

Uncharacteristically, he lashed out at the contractors in attendance, according to the Army Corps official. In three months, the official had never seen Westhusing upset.

"He was sick of money-grubbing contractors," the official recounted. Westhusing said that "he had not come over to Iraq for this."

The meeting broke up shortly before lunch. About 1 p.m., a USIS manager went looking for Westhusing because he was scheduled for a ride back to the Green Zone. After getting no answer, the manager returned about 15 minutes later. Another USIS employee peeked through a window. He saw Westhusing lying on the floor in a pool of blood.

The manager rushed into the trailer and tried to revive Westhusing. The manager told investigators that he picked up the pistol at Westhusing's feet and tossed it onto the bed.

"I knew people would show up," that manager said later in attempting to explain why he had handled the weapon. "With 30 years from military and law enforcement training, I did not want the weapon to get bumped and go off."

After a three-month inquiry, investigators declared Westhusing's death a suicide. A test showed gunpowder residue on his hands. A shell casing in the room bore markings indicating it had been fired from his service revolver.

Then there was the note.

Investigators found it lying on Westhusing's bed. The handwriting matched his.

The first part of the four-page letter lashes out at Petraeus and Fil. Both men later told investigators that they had not criticized Westhusing or heard negative comments from him. An Army review undertaken after Westhusing's death was complimentary of the command climate under the two men, a U.S. military official said.

Most of the letter is a wrenching account of a struggle for honor in a strange land.

"I cannot support a msn [mission] that leads to corruption, human rights abuse and liars. I am sullied," it says. "I came to serve honorably and feel dishonored.

"Death before being dishonored any more."

A psychologist reviewed Westhusing's e-mails and interviewed colleagues. She concluded that the anonymous letter had been the "most difficult and probably most painful stressor."

She said that Westhusing had placed too much pressure on himself to succeed and that he was unusually rigid in his thinking. Westhusing struggled with the idea that monetary values could outweigh moral ones in war. This, she said, was a flaw.

"Despite his intelligence, his ability to grasp the idea that profit is an important goal for people working in the private sector was surprisingly limited," wrote Lt. Col. Lisa Breitenbach. "He could not shift his mind-set from the military notion of completing a mission irrespective of cost, nor could he change his belief that doing the right thing because it was the right thing to do should be the sole motivator for businesses."

One military officer said he felt Westhusing had trouble reconciling his ideals with Iraq's reality. Iraq "isn't a black-and-white place," the officer said. "There's a lot of gray."

Fil and Petraeus, Westhusing's commanding officers, declined to comment on the investigation, but they praised him. He was "an extremely bright, highly competent, completely professional and exceedingly hard-working officer. His death was truly tragic and was a tremendous blow," Petraeus said.

Westhusing's family and friends are troubled that he died at Camp Dublin, where he was without a bodyguard, surrounded by the same contractors he suspected of wrongdoing. They wonder why the manager who discovered Westhusing's body and picked up his weapon was not tested for gunpowder residue.

Mostly, they wonder how Col. Ted Westhusing — father, husband, son and expert on doing right — could have found himself in a place so dark that he saw no light.

"He's the last person who would commit suicide," said Fichtelberg, his graduate school colleague. "He couldn't have done it. He's just too damn stubborn."

Westhusing's body was flown back to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. Waiting to receive it were his family and a close friend from West Point, a lieutenant colonel.

In the military report, the unidentified colonel told investigators that he had turned to Michelle, Westhusing's wife, and asked what happened.

She answered:

"Iraq."

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld ... ines-world
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Post by Classicus Maximus » Tue Nov 29, 2005 8:19 am

This is a truly sad story.

Howver when I read this:
In e-mails to his family, Westhusing seemed especially upset by one conclusion he had reached: that traditional military values such as duty, honor and country had been replaced by profit motives in Iraq, where the U.S. had come to rely heavily on contractors for jobs once done by the military.
It makes me wonder how someone with a doctorate in philosophy, a full professor at West Point could not see (before he went to Iraq) that this (profit motive mentality) is the driving force of this administration.

If Superman were on PBS, I am sure he'd be fighting a neverending battle for Spin, Profit and the Republican Way.

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Post by Ralph » Tue Nov 29, 2005 8:23 am

I'm familiar with this officer's career and death. Despite the hint of murder there's no reasonable basis to doubt that he killed himself.

Often there's no way to comprehend what pushed a person to self-destruction and comments from family and friends that he/she just couldn't have done that sadly reflect how alone many of us truly are.

There is a huge disconnect between the world of West Point with its strict Honor Code and the reality of serving in a field army in combat where prevarication and self-promotion are key values. I know this from experience. Some of my fellow young officers who graduated from the Academy had more problems dealing with reality than those of us from more socially and economically integrated backgrounds.

I'm not defending mendacity and dubious ethics but for those whose views are wholly inflexible, suicide while rare is not devoid of reason. More often the person who can't change just resigns. Unfortunately this colonel's self-image didn't allow for a life change.
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Post by Modernistfan » Tue Nov 29, 2005 1:59 pm

I don't believe for a moment that the Colonel comitted suicide. That would just about do in this corrupt, incompetent administration--evidence that crooked contractors had an esteemed military officer murdered. Can you say impeachment? If so, you had better get the Veep along with Dubya. This is the first time in American history that the resources of the American military, along with over 2,100 lives lost, have been used for private gain--to enrich the Halliburtons and those of their ilk. This is a disgusting episode in American history, one that has shamed us before the world and called the continuance of the American constitutional system and American democracy into question.

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Post by BWV 1080 » Tue Nov 29, 2005 3:16 pm

Ultimately, as is generally the case with suicide, the guy was a coward that committed a very selfish act that will forever harm his surviving family. So Iraq was a bad place that did not live up to his moral standards - he should have been a man and dealt with it.

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Post by Classicus Maximus » Tue Nov 29, 2005 3:38 pm

he should have been a man and dealt with it.
Yep
My friend had a serious case of insomnia
I told him to deal with it like a man and just sleep it off.

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Post by jbuck919 » Tue Nov 29, 2005 3:49 pm

Sigh, Dave Petraeus, my high school classmate--what must he be thinking?

Trust me, there is something going on behind the scenes here, probably something personal. Several years ago an important admiral killed himself in Washington because he had been caught in a sexual indiscretion.

Although it is routine for officers to come in from the field and teach at West Point and then go back (Robert E. Lee was both an instructor and the superintendent of West Point, as incredible as that sounds), in general (no pun intended), all normal people will prefer one kind of posting or the other. I know what the article said, but if the man was a professor dedicated to the academic side of military theory, he was probably not very happy actually being in the field.

But I still think that people do not take their lives for philosophical reasons and that something else is going on here.

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Post by Ralph » Tue Nov 29, 2005 4:24 pm

I don't recall any admiral committing suicide because of sexual hijinks. The Chief of Naval Operations shot himself after it was revealed that he wore a ribbon for valor in combat that had not been awarded.
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Post by jbuck919 » Tue Nov 29, 2005 4:43 pm

Ralph wrote:I don't recall any admiral committing suicide because of sexual hijinks. The Chief of Naval Operations shot himself after it was revealed that he wore a ribbon for valor in combat that had not been awarded.
Thank you for the correction, Ralph. Faulty memory, pure and simple. But it was the CNO (the equivalent of the chief of staff of the other branches), and he did go home one day and shoot himself. I suppose he assumed, probably correctly that he would have lost his pension, and unless he had private money, would have had to support himself and his family as a short order cook.

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Post by herman » Tue Nov 29, 2005 5:24 pm

BWV 1080 wrote:Ultimately, as is generally the case with suicide, the guy was a coward that committed a very selfish act
Nice. A man commits suicide under severe distress and one armchair hero calls him a coward and another starts speculating about "sexual indiscretions."

Yes, the man's bio reads like one "selfish act".

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Last edited by herman on Tue Nov 29, 2005 5:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by herman » Tue Nov 29, 2005 5:25 pm

..

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Post by jbuck919 » Tue Nov 29, 2005 5:44 pm

herman wrote:
BWV 1080 wrote:Ultimately, as is generally the case with suicide, the guy was a coward that committed a very selfish act
Nice. A man commits suicide under severe distress and one armchair hero calls him a coward and another starts speculating about "sexual indiscretions."

Yes, the man's bio reads like one "selfish act".

Long live the internet!
Parents of my students are routinely deployed in Iraq under circumstances of the greatest stress and manage not to take their own lives. And almost all of them are relatively uneducated enlisted men.

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Brendan

Post by Brendan » Tue Nov 29, 2005 6:20 pm

Most people from all walks of life do not take their own lives. Branding this man a coward and hinting at sexual indiscretions from our positions of mutual ignorance is uncalled for, IMHO. Few ever say it around here, but well said Herman.

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Post by Werner » Tue Nov 29, 2005 7:28 pm

Right on, Herman and Brendan.
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Post by Ralph » Tue Nov 29, 2005 7:39 pm

The father of one of my favorite students, a lovely young woman, killed himself two summers ago. He enlisted in the Army and went Airborne, subsequently seeing much action in Vietnam.

He never recovered from his experiences and when he killed himself he was, without question, a victim of the war.

That few commit suicide doesn't mean that those who do were fundamentally aberrent. Combat affects people differently, especially in modern conflict where clear lines between who is a civilian and who is the enemy do not exist.

It's sad if anyone here wants to go back to the discredited and cruel British doctrine of World War I where those suffering psychological trauma from combat were "diagnosed" as "LMF - Lack of Moral Fiber." One should read the life of Siegfried Sassoon and the writings of Dr. Rivers to understand why a combat experience may be the basis for irreversible psychological disintegration.

Whatever one's view of the policies leading to the Iraq war there is no question about the extent of emotional and mental damage to very many and it's the services - especially the Army and the Marines - that are forthrightly confronting this issue as close to the battlefield as possible.
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Post by Huckleberry » Tue Nov 29, 2005 8:59 pm

Werner wrote:Right on, Herman and Brendan.
And I am with you.

It is easy for us to be "brave" when we are not in a real or metaphorical battle-field or never have been one.

And let's face facts - some people are just more sensitive or delicate psychologically than others. Gosh, most of the composers we worship wouldn't be considered up to scratch in that department :!:
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Post by RebLem » Tue Nov 29, 2005 11:34 pm

First of all, let me join the chorus of praise for Herman and Brendan.

I remember that in the wake of the demise of the Soviet Union, several high level apparatchiks committed suicide because they were old people who saw everything they had believed in and worked for all their lives crumbling around them.

Col. Ted Westhusing was not an old man, but he wasn't that young, either. He simply saw everything he had always believed in and dedicated his life to breaking up, like a comet that gets too close to the sun. He knew that after what he had seen in Iraq, he couldn't go back to West Point and teach ethics without being a hypocrite.

The interesting thing is that this is the point of view being pushed by the Bush Administration--because this is their best case scenario take on the good colonel. If it was a murder, it could be far, far worse.
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Post by BWV 1080 » Wed Nov 30, 2005 1:22 am

Any grown healthy man with responsibilities who commits suicide is a coward not worthy of respect. I have unfortunately known too many peoplr who killed themselves and it always struck me as an extremely selfish act. So his beliefs were challenged - he took the easy way out. Suicide is just a juvenile way to say FU to the the world or in this case the army. Would not this guy have had his moral pretentions tested in any war? What exactly did he think war was about?

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Post by Ralph » Wed Nov 30, 2005 7:27 am

From The New York Times:

November 26, 2005
Coping With Combat
The Struggle to Gauge a War's Psychological Cost
By BENEDICT CAREY

It was hardly a traditional therapist's office. The mortar fire was relentless, head-splitting, so close that it raised layers of rubble high off the floor of the bombed-out room.

Capt. William Nash, a Navy psychiatrist, sat on an overturned box of ready-made meals for the troops. He was in Iraq to try to short-circuit combat stress on the spot, before it became disabling, as part of the military's most determined effort yet to bring therapy to the front lines.

His clients, about a dozen young men desperate for help after weeks of living and fighting in Falluja, sat opposite him and told their stories.

One had been spattered with his best friend's blood and blamed himself for the death.

Another was also filled with guilt. He had hesitated while scouting an alley and had seen the man in front of him shot to death.

"They were so young," Captain Nash recalled.

At first, when they talked, he simply listened. Then he did his job, telling them that soldiers always blame themselves when someone is killed, in any war, always.

Grief, he told them, can make us forget how random war is, how much we have done to protect those we are fighting with.

"You try to help them tell a coherent story about what is happening, to make sense of it, so they feel less guilt and shame over protecting others, which is so common," said Captain Nash, who counseled the marines last November as part of the military's increased efforts to defuse psychological troubles.

He added, "You have to help them reconstruct the things they used to believe in that don't make sense anymore, like the basic goodness of humanity."

Military psychiatry has always been close to a contradiction in terms. Psychiatry aims to keep people sane; service in wartime makes demands that seem insane.

This war in particular presents profound mental stresses: unknown and often unseen enemies, suicide bombers, a hostile land with virtually no safe zone, no real front or rear. A 360-degree war, some call it, an asymmetrical battle space that threatens to injure troops' minds as well as their bodies.

But just how deep those mental wounds are, and how many will be disabled by them, are matters of controversy. Some experts suspect that the legacy of Iraq could echo that of Vietnam, when almost a third of returning military personnel reported significant, often chronic, psychological problems.

Others say the mental casualties will be much lower, given the resilience of today's troops and the sophistication of the military's psychological corps, which place therapists like Captain Nash into combat zones.

The numbers so far tell a mixed story. The suicide rate among soldiers was high in 2003 but fell significantly in 2004, according to two Army surveys among more than 2,000 soldiers and mental health support providers in Iraq. Morale rose in the same period, but 54 percent of the troops say morale is low or very low, the report found.

A continuing study of combat units that served in Iraq has found that about 17 percent of the personnel have shown serious symptoms of depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder - characterized by intrusive thoughts, sleep loss and hyper-alertness, among other symptoms - in the first few months after returning from Iraq, a higher rate than in Afghanistan but thought to be lower than after Vietnam.

In interviews, many members of the armed services and psychologists who had completed extended tours in Iraq said they had battled feelings of profound grief, anger and moral ambiguity about the effect of their presence on Iraqi civilians.

And at bases back home, there have been violent outbursts among those who have completed tours. A marine from Camp Pendleton, Calif., has been convicted of murdering his girlfriend. And three members of a special forces unit based at Fort Carson, in Colorado Springs, have committed suicide.

Yet for returning service members, experts say, the question of whether their difficulties are ultimately diagnosed as mental illness may depend not only on the mental health services available, but also on the politics of military psychiatry itself, the definition of what a normal reaction to combat is and the story the nation tells itself about the purpose and value of soldiers' service.

"We must not ever diminish the pain and anguish many soldiers will feel; this kind of experience never leaves you," said David H. Marlowe, a former chief of military psychiatry at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. "But at the same time we have to be careful not to create an attachment to that pain and anguish by pathologizing it."

The legacy of Iraq, Dr. Marlowe said, will depend as much on how service members are received and understood by the society they return to as on their exposure to the trauma of war.

Memories Still Haunt

The blood and fury of combat exhilarate some people and mentally scar others, for reasons no one understands.

On an October night in 2003, mortar shells fell on a base camp near Baquba, Iraq, where Specialist Abbie Pickett, then 21, was serving as a combat lifesaver, caring for the wounded. Specialist Pickett continued working all night by the dim blue light of a flashlight, "plugging and chugging" bleeding troops to a makeshift medical tent, she said.

At first, she did not notice that one of the medics who was working with her was bleeding heavily and near death; then, frantically, she treated his wounds and moved him to a medical station not knowing if he would survive.

He did survive, Specialist Pickett later learned. But the horror of that night is still vivid, and the memory stalks her even now, more than a year after she returned home.

"I would say that on a weekly basis I wish I would have died during that attack," said Specialist Pickett, who served with the Wisconsin Army National Guard and whose condition has been diagnosed as post-traumatic stress disorder. "You never want family to hear that, and it's a selfish thing to say. But I'm not a typical 23-year-old, and it's hard being a combat vet and a woman and figuring out where you fit in."

Each war produces its own traumatic syndrome. The trench warfare of World War I produced the shaking and partial paralysis known as shell shock. The long tours and heavy fighting of World War II induced in many young men the numbed exhaustion that was called combat fatigue.

But it is post-traumatic stress disorder, a diagnosis some psychiatrists intended to characterize the mental struggles of Vietnam veterans, that now dominates the study and description of war trauma.

The diagnosis has always been controversial. Few experts doubt that close combat can cause a lingering hair-trigger alertness and play on a person's conscience for a lifetime. But no one knows what level of trauma is necessary to produce a disabling condition or who will become disabled.

The largest study of Vietnam veterans found that about 30 percent of them had post-traumatic stress disorder in the 20 years after the war but that only a fraction of those service members had had combat roles. Another study of Vietnam veterans, done around the same time, found that the lifetime rate of the syndrome was half as high, 15 percent.

And since Vietnam, therapists have diagnosed the disorder in crime victims, disaster victims, people who have witnessed disasters, even those who have seen upsetting events on television. The disorder varies widely depending on the individual and the nature of the trauma, psychiatrists say, but they cannot yet predict how.

Yet the very pervasiveness of post-traumatic stress disorder as a concept shapes not only how researchers study war trauma but also how many soldiers describe their reactions to combat.

Specialist Pickett, for example, has struggled with the intrusive memories typical of post-traumatic stress and with symptoms of depression and a seething resentment over her service, partly because of what she describes as irresponsible leaders and a poorly defined mission. Her memories make good bar stories, she said, but they also follow her back to her apartment, where the combination of anxiety and uncertainty about the value of her service has at times made her feel as if she were losing her mind.

Richard J. McNally, a psychologist at Harvard, said, "It's very difficult to know whether a new kind of syndrome will emerge from this war for the simple reason that the instrument used to assess soldiers presupposes that it will look like P.T.S.D. from Vietnam."

A more thorough assessment, Dr. McNally said, "might ask not only about guilt, shame and the killing of noncombatants, but about camaraderie, leadership, devotion to the mission, about what is meaningful and worthwhile, as well as the negative things."

Sitting amid the broken furniture in his Falluja "office," Captain Nash represents the military's best effort to handle stress on the ground, before it becomes upsetting, and keep service members on the job with the others in their platoon or team, who provide powerful emotional support.

While the military deployed mental health experts in Vietnam, most stayed behind the lines. In part because of that war's difficult legacy, the military has increased the proportion of field therapists and put them closer to the action than ever before.

The Army says it has about 200 mental health workers for a force of about 150,000, including combat stress units that travel to combat zones when called on. The Marines are experimenting with a program in which the therapists stationed at a base are deployed with battalions in the field.

"The idea is simple," said Lt. Cmdr. Gary Hoyt, a Navy psychologist and colleague of Captain Nash in the Marine program. "You have a lot more credibility if you've been there, and soldiers and marines are more likely to talk to you."

Commander Hoyt has struggled with irritability and heightened alertness since returning from Iraq in September 2004.

Psychologists and psychiatrists on the ground have to break through the mental toughness that not only keeps troops fighting but also prevents them from seeking psychological help, which is viewed as a sign of weakness. And they have been among the first to identify the mental reactions particular to this war.

One of them, these experts say, is profound, unreleased anger. Unlike in Vietnam, where service members served shorter tours and were rotated in and out of the country individually, troops in Iraq have deployed as units and tend to have trained together as full-time military or in the Reserves or the National Guard. Group cohesion is strong, and the bonds only deepen in the hostile desert terrain of Iraq.

For these tight-knit groups, certain kinds of ambushes - roadside bombs, for instance - can be mentally devastating, for a variety of reasons.

"These guys go out in convoys, and boom: the first vehicle gets hit, their best friend dies, and now they're seeing life flash before them and get a surge of adrenaline and want to do something," said Lt. Col. Alan Peterson, an Air Force psychologist who completed a tour in Iraq last year. "But often there's nothing they can do. There's no enemy there."

Many, Colonel Peterson said, become deeply frustrated because "they wish they could act out on this adrenaline rush and do what they were trained to do but can't."

Some soldiers and marines describe foot patrols as "drawing fire," and gunmen so often disappear into crowds that many have the feeling that they are fighting ghosts. In roadside ambushes, service men and women may never see the enemy.

Sgt. Benjamin Flanders, 27, a graduate student in math who went to Iraq with the New Hampshire National Guard, recalled: "It was kind of a joke: if you got to shoot back at the enemy, people were jealous. It was a stress reliever, a great release, because usually these guys disappear."

Another powerful factor is ambiguity about the purpose of the mission, and about Iraqi civilians' perception of the American presence.

On a Sunday in April 2004, Commander Hoyt received orders to visit Marine units that had been trapped in a firefight in a town near the Syrian border and that had lost five men. The Americans had been handing out candy to children and helping residents fix their houses the day before the ambush, and they felt they had been set up, he said.

The entire unit, he said, was coursing with rage, asking: "What are we doing here? Why aren't the Iraqis helping us?"

Commander Hoyt added, "There was a breakdown, and some wanted to know how come they couldn't hit mosques" or other off-limits targets where insurgents were suspected of hiding.

In group sessions, the psychologist emphasized to the marines that they could not know for sure whether the civilians they had helped had supported the insurgents. Insurgent fighters scare many Iraqis more than the Americans do, he reminded them, and that fear creates a deep ambivalence, even among those who most welcome the American presence. And following the rules of engagement, he told them, was crucial to setting an example.

Commander Hoyt also reminded the group of some of its successes, in rebuilding houses, for example, and restoring electricity in the area. He also told them it was better to fight in Iraq than back home.

"Having someone killed in World War II, you could say, 'Well, we won this battle to save the world,' " he said. "In this terrorist war, it is much less tangible how to anchor your losses."

Help in Adjusting to Life at Home

No one has shown definitively that on-the-spot group or individual therapy in combat lowers the risk of psychological problems later. But military psychiatrists know from earlier wars that separating an individual from his or her unit can significantly worsen feelings of guilt and depression.

About 8 service members per every 1,000 in Iraq have developed psychiatric problems severe enough to require evacuation, according to Defense Department statistics, while the rate of serious psychiatric diagnoses in Vietnam from 1965 to 1969 was more than 10 per 1,000, although improvements in treatment, as well as differences in the conflicts and diagnostic criteria, make a direct comparison very rough.

At the same time, Captain Nash and Commander Hoyt say that psychological consultations by returning marines at Camp Pendleton have been increasing significantly since the war began.

One who comes for regular counseling is Sgt. Robert Willis, who earned a Bronze Star for leading an assault through a graveyard near Najaf in 2004.

Irritable since his return home in February, shaken by loud noises, leery of malls or other areas that are not well-lighted at night - classic signs of post-traumatic stress - Sergeant Willis has been seeing Commander Hoyt to help adjust to life at home.

"It's been hard," Sergeant Willis said in a telephone interview. "I have been boisterous, overbearing - my family notices it."

He said he had learned to manage his moods rather than react impulsively, after learning to monitor his thoughts and attend more closely to the reactions of others.

"The turning point, I think, was when Dr. Hoyt told me to simply accept that I was going to be different because of this," but not mentally ill, Sergeant Willis said.

The increase in consultations at Camp Pendleton may reflect increasingly taxing conditions, or delayed reactions, experts said. But it may also be evidence that men and women who have fought with ready access to a psychologist or psychiatrist are less constrained by the tough-it-out military ethos and are more comfortable seeking that person's advice when they get back.

"Seeing someone you remember from real time in combat absolutely could help in treatment," as well as help overcome the stigma of seeking counseling, said Rachel Yehuda, director of the post-traumatic stress disorder program at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in the Bronx. "If this is what is happening, I think it's brilliant."

Tracking Serious Symptoms

In the coming months, researchers who are following combat units after they return home are expected to report that the number of personnel with serious mental symptoms has increased slightly, up from the 17 percent reported last year.

In an editorial last year in The New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Matthew J. Friedman, executive director of the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for the Department of Veterans Affairs, wrote that studies suggested that the rates of post-traumatic stress disorder, in particular, "may increase considerably during the two years after veterans return from combat duty."

And on the basis of previous studies, Dr. Friedman wrote, "it is possible that psychiatric disorders will increase now that the conduct of the war has shifted from a campaign for liberation to an ongoing armed conflict with dissident combatants."

But others say that the rates of the disorder are just as likely to diminish in the next year, as studies show they do for disaster victims.

Col. Elspeth Cameron Ritchie, psychiatry consultant to the Army surgeon general, said that given the stresses of this war, it was worth noting that five out of six service members who had seen combat did not show serious signs of mental illness.

The emotional casualties, Colonel Ritchie said, are "not just an Army medical problem, but a problem that the V.A. system, the civilian system and the society as a whole must work to solve."

That is the one thing all seem to agree on. Some veterans, like Sergeant Flanders and Sergeant Willis, have reconnected with other men in their units to help with their psychological adjustment to home life. Sergeant Willis has been transferred to noncombat duty at Camp Pendleton, in an environment he knows and enjoys, and he can see Commander Hoyt when he needs to. Sergeant Flanders is studying to be an officer.

But others, particularly reservists and National Guard troops, have landed right back in civilian society with no one close to them who has shared their experience.

Specialist Pickett, since her return, has felt especially cut off from the company she trained and served with. She has struggled at school, and with the Veterans Affairs system to get counseling, and no one near her has had an experience remotely like hers. She has tried antidepressants, which have helped reduce her suicidal thinking. She has also joined Operation Truth, a nonprofit organization that represents Iraq veterans, which has given her some comfort.

Finally, she said, she has been searching her memory and conscience for reasons to justify the pain of her experience: no one, Specialist Pickett said, looks harder for justification than a soldier.

Dr. Marlowe, the former chief of psychiatry at Walter Reed, knows from studying other wars that this is so.

"The great change among American troops in Germany during the Second World War was when they discovered the concentration camps," Dr. Marlowe said. "That immediately and forever changed the moral appreciation for why we were there."

As soldiers return from Iraq, he said, "it will be enormously important for those who feel psychologically disaffected to find something which justifies the killing, and the death of their friends."
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Post by Huckleberry » Wed Nov 30, 2005 10:29 am

BWV 1080 wrote:Any grown healthy man with responsibilities who commits suicide is a coward not worthy of respect. I have unfortunately known too many peoplr who killed themselves and it always struck me as an extremely selfish act. So his beliefs were challenged - he took the easy way out. Suicide is just a juvenile way to say FU to the the world or in this case the army. Would not this guy have had his moral pretentions tested in any war? What exactly did he think war was about?
BWV, could I hope that you will become less conservative with age? More in tune with human vulnerabilities, or, perhaps your own vulnerabilities? At universities at least, TAs, newly graduated Ph.D.s, and new faculty tend to be hard markers; those past 40, including internationally known scholars, are relatively gentle graders.
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Post by herman » Wed Nov 30, 2005 11:00 am

Huckleberry wrote:BWV[/b], could I hope that you will become less conservative with age? More in tune with human vulnerabilities, or, perhaps your own vulnerabilities?
Seconded. However, isn't it odd the way the word "conservative" in american English doesn't seem to mean what it's supposed to mean?

People want to "conserve" things because they are sensitive to their value. In the above quote "conservative" means "insensitive," "callous" (and proud of it).

Alban Berg

Post by Alban Berg » Wed Nov 30, 2005 12:15 pm

herman wrote:
Huckleberry wrote:BWV[/b], could I hope that you will become less conservative with age? More in tune with human vulnerabilities, or, perhaps your own vulnerabilities?
Seconded. However, isn't it odd the way the word "conservative" in american English doesn't seem to mean what it's supposed to mean?

People want to "conserve" things because they are sensitive to their value. In the above quote "conservative" means "insensitive," "callous" (and proud of it).
Have you forgotten the oxymoron "compassionate conservatism"? Dubya no doubt demonstrated it in his response to the victims of Katrina.

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Post by DavidRoss » Wed Nov 30, 2005 1:56 pm

BWV 1080 wrote:Any grown healthy man with responsibilities who commits suicide is a coward not worthy of respect. I have unfortunately known too many peoplr who killed themselves and it always struck me as an extremely selfish act. So his beliefs were challenged - he took the easy way out. Suicide is just a juvenile way to say FU to the the world or in this case the army. Would not this guy have had his moral pretentions tested in any war? What exactly did he think war was about?
Seven of my friends and acquaintances have killed themselves over the past 30 years--the most recent only a few weeks ago. I know the suffering borne by the immediate family and other survivors. It is a coward's way out to relieve one's personal suffering by causing so much grief, anguish, and hardship to others--especially to innocent, dependent children.

Recognizing the cowardice inherent in suicide has nothing to do with compassion for the victim(s) or lack of same. Taking Steve's statement as an excuse to gang tackle him with mean-spirited, self-righteous, hypocritical, bigoted political and personal attacks is shameful. Some of you make David Duke look like the patron saint of generous-minded tolerance.
"Most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives." ~Leo Tolstoy

"It is the highest form of self-respect to admit our errors and mistakes and make amends for them. To make a mistake is only an error in judgment, but to adhere to it when it is discovered shows infirmity of character." ~Dale Turner

"Anyone who doesn't take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large ones either." ~Albert Einstein
"Truth is incontrovertible; malice may attack it and ignorance may deride it; but, in the end, there it is." ~Winston Churchill

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Post by Ralph » Wed Nov 30, 2005 2:47 pm

Many who commit suicide genuinely and deeply believe they are doing it to save their loved one's from their intractable depression and, often, feelings of worthlessness.

Suicide has a major, often overwhelming, cultural context that has become far more deep and complex since Durkheim's groundbreaking study. Whether the suicide decision may have a genetic component is an open question. We know with reasonable certainty that drugs which lift depression in adults may well create suicidal ideation in teens.

Branding someone a "coward" for commiting suicide is both unfair and intellectually reductionist. Obviously an unmaked pedophile who kills himself is avoiding the consequences of his acts but those who choose self-destruction after the turmoil of combat are in a different place. The military fully recognizes that - I wonder why some here can't.
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Post by Huckleberry » Wed Nov 30, 2005 3:08 pm

Agreed.

Yes, I'm pretty sure that most people who commit suicide are either chronically ill or are made ill by a situation.

According to the last research findings I read, one in five people with Bipolar Disorder commits suicide without suitable medication. Many aren't even diagnosed with BP even in this day and age, a situation that was far more grave in the past.

If a person's body doesn't produce enough insulin and the person dies, that's morally okay. But if they have a chronic or temporary disorder related to chemicals in their brains, that's a mortal sin.

I was very, very close to a very loving person with BP, and he loved life with a vengeance and loved being happy :D. When those chemicals acted up, he'd fight tooth and nail to ward off a depression. Yet bad times came and went ... and I'd have been the last person to blame him if he had made a fatal decision when visited by The Black Dog.

This army man was not well. If he were, he would have never ever killed himself. The same goes for the others: those with Bipolar Disorder, chronic depression, post-partum depression, and so on.

Ralph's account is compatible with the stories of successful women whose post-partum depression is so intense that they feel that they kill themselves and also remove their infants from a world of misery.

There but for fortune ...
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Post by BWV 1080 » Wed Nov 30, 2005 3:13 pm

My qualifying word there was healthy. If the guy was mentally ill, then obviously his culpability for his actions is reduced - but you cannot also then say that the big bad Bush administration is responsible for this. If the guy was clinically depressed and say, beat his wife because of it would everyone be so compassionate?

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Post by Huckleberry » Wed Nov 30, 2005 3:24 pm

BWV 1080 wrote:My qualifying word there was healthy. If the guy was mentally ill, then obviously his culpability for his actions is reduced - but you cannot also then say that the big bad Bush administration is responsible for this. If the guy was clinically depressed and say, beat his wife because of it would everyone be so compassionate?
Fugue, let's leave the Big, Bad Bulf and the Beaten Wife out of this - these are distractions here. :wink:

Your original post was about the cowardice of suicide, no?
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Post by Barry » Wed Nov 30, 2005 3:38 pm

BWV 1080 wrote:My qualifying word there was healthy. If the guy was mentally ill, then obviously his culpability for his actions is reduced - ...
It certainly is. Someone close to me has been severely depressed most of the time for about a decade now. I always fear that she'll reach the end of her rope and take her own life, while of course hoping she won't. But while I'd be very grief-stricken were she to do that, I wouldn't think any less of her. She's been through ten years of hell and has tried numerous treatments, all to no avail. Reaching the point where she decides she just can't take the pain any more wouldn't be an act of cowardice in any way.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
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Post by BWV 1080 » Wed Nov 30, 2005 3:49 pm

Barry Z wrote:
BWV 1080 wrote:My qualifying word there was healthy. If the guy was mentally ill, then obviously his culpability for his actions is reduced - ...
It certainly is. Someone close to me has been severely depressed most of the time for about a decade now. I always fear that she'll reach the end of her rope and take her own life, while of course hoping she won't. But while I'd be very grief-stricken were she to do that, I wouldn't think any less of her. She's been through ten years of hell and has tried numerous treatments, all to no avail. Reaching the point where she decides she just can't take the pain any more wouldn't be an act of cowardice in any way.
On the other hand, I know someone whose father blew his brains out in an area of his own home where he knew his whole family would see it - largely to spite his wife I think. That is a hateful act of cowardice in my book.

Brendan

Post by Brendan » Wed Nov 30, 2005 4:05 pm

DavidRoss wrote: Taking Steve's statement as an excuse to gang tackle him with mean-spirited, self-righteous, hypocritical, bigoted political and personal attacks is shameful. Some of you make David Duke look like the patron saint of generous-minded tolerance.
Mr Ross,

Pointing out that we are all speaking from a position of ignorance in this matter and asking others to desist in their personal attacks and unwarranted innuendo and gossip-mongering hardly qualifies for the ridiculous and innaccurate outburst above. I made no attack on Steve - I asked him to refrain from attacking and disgracing the memory of a fallen soldier.
Last edited by Brendan on Wed Nov 30, 2005 4:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Gregory Kleyn

Post by Gregory Kleyn » Wed Nov 30, 2005 4:11 pm

DavidRoss wrote:
BWV 1080 wrote:Any grown healthy man with responsibilities who commits suicide is a coward not worthy of respect. I have unfortunately known too many peoplr who killed themselves and it always struck me as an extremely selfish act. So his beliefs were challenged - he took the easy way out. Suicide is just a juvenile way to say FU to the the world or in this case the army. Would not this guy have had his moral pretentions tested in any war? What exactly did he think war was about?
Seven of my friends and acquaintances have killed themselves over the past 30 years--the most recent only a few weeks ago.
Um, - if I were one of your friends, David, I might immediately consider severing all ties.

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Post by Ralph » Wed Nov 30, 2005 4:34 pm

BWV 1080 wrote:My qualifying word there was healthy. If the guy was mentally ill, then obviously his culpability for his actions is reduced - but you cannot also then say that the big bad Bush administration is responsible for this. If the guy was clinically depressed and say, beat his wife because of it would everyone be so compassionate?
*****

If the foundation for physical abuse was biochemical I would be sympathetic if the afflicted person took responsibility for securing medical intervention.
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Post by herman » Wed Nov 30, 2005 5:34 pm

Ralph wrote:Branding someone a "coward" for commiting suicide is both unfair and intellectually reductionist. Obviously an unmaked pedophile who kills himself is avoiding the consequences of his acts but those who choose self-destruction after the turmoil of combat are in a different place. The military fully recognizes that - I wonder why some here can't.
The reason why BWV and DR can't is it clearly makes them feel better posting this selfrighteous stuff.

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Post by BWV 1080 » Wed Nov 30, 2005 5:53 pm

herman wrote:
The reason why BWV and DR can't is it clearly makes them feel better posting this selfrighteous stuff.
Or does labeling me self righteous make you feel superior? After all, labeling someone as coward is little different than self-righteous, insensitive or callous. The accusation cuts both ways.

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Post by John Bleau » Wed Nov 30, 2005 7:05 pm

Moral outrage is often suspect because it's so often projection.

Gregory Kleyn

Post by Gregory Kleyn » Wed Nov 30, 2005 9:48 pm

John Bleau wrote:Moral outrage is often suspect because it's so often projection.
What isn't projection?

Which makes all typical human judgments and behavior suspect, - though some "objective consciousness" (of a far different order from any dissociated modern scientific perspective) may at least be a possibility, arduous as it is to achieve.

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Post by pizza » Thu Dec 01, 2005 1:12 am

Gregory Kleyn wrote:
Which makes all typical human judgments and behavior suspect, - though some "objective consciousness" (of a far different order from any dissociated modern scientific perspective) may at least be a possibility, arduous as it is to achieve.
Can you diagram that sentence? :wink:

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Post by herman » Thu Dec 01, 2005 4:16 am

BWV 1080 wrote:
herman wrote:
The reason why BWV and DR can't is it clearly makes them feel better posting this selfrighteous stuff.
Or does labeling me self righteous make you feel superior? .
You may not have noticed the difference, but you're alive and have suffered 0% for what you did, i.e. calling a man whose life was dedicated to serving a cause and who felt compelled (for reasons we cannot expect to understand) to kill himself. Being alive you can also respond to what I said. You were jumping on a dead man, happy to call him a coward.

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Post by pizza » Thu Dec 01, 2005 7:46 am

herman wrote: Being alive you can also respond to what I said. You were jumping on a dead man, happy to call him a coward.
Please point out the happiness in any of BWV 1080's posts. Aren't you happy to jump on anyone who has a point of view other than yours -- dead or alive? You must derive some happiness from it. You do it often enough.

As far as being able to respond to what you say is concerned, you did a pretty good hatchet job on Mark A. after he was banned and unable to reply to your personal invective.

Gregory Kleyn

Post by Gregory Kleyn » Thu Dec 01, 2005 7:07 pm

pizza wrote:
Gregory Kleyn wrote:
Which makes all typical human judgments and behavior suspect, - though some "objective consciousness" (of a far different order from any dissociated modern scientific perspective) may at least be a possibility, arduous as it is to achieve.
Can you diagram that sentence? :wink:
The original had three parentheticals. You're never satisfied.

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Post by herman » Fri Dec 02, 2005 4:34 am

pizza wrote: Aren't you happy to jump on anyone who has a point of view other than yours -- dead or alive? You must derive some happiness from it. You do it often enough.
Anonymous mr pizza, have you ever looked in the mirror? No one in the entire universe needs disagreeing with people as badly as you do.

The internet would be dead if people didn't express differing opinions, but that's not same as positively living and breathing acrimony the way you seem to do. However I'm sure you're a perfectly amiable person "in real life".
you did a pretty good hatchet job on Mark A. after he was banned and unable to reply to your personal invective.
Memory Lane! You have to dig deep dontcha? However I don't think I have ever resorted to personal invective on this board. Few people do, in fact. You're one of the few.

Anyway it's funny that it's the ur-moralists who don't see what a sad spectacle it makes when you're calling a dead person names.

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Post by pizza » Fri Dec 02, 2005 6:04 am

herman wrote:
pizza wrote: Aren't you happy to jump on anyone who has a point of view other than yours -- dead or alive? You must derive some happiness from it. You do it often enough.
Anonymous mr pizza, have you ever looked in the mirror? No one in the entire universe needs disagreeing with people as badly as you do.

The internet would be dead if people didn't express differing opinions, but that's not same as positively living and breathing acrimony the way you seem to do. However I'm sure you're a perfectly amiable person "in real life".
you did a pretty good hatchet job on Mark A. after he was banned and unable to reply to your personal invective.
Memory Lane! You have to dig deep dontcha? However I don't think I have ever resorted to personal invective on this board. Few people do, in fact. You're one of the few.

Anyway it's funny that it's the ur-moralists who don't see what a sad spectacle it makes when you're calling a dead person names.
It doesn't take much effort to disagree with anyone as disagreeable as you, Hermie -- what's the last name?-- well, whoever you are.

I simply pointed out that your gratuitous description of BWV 1080's "happiness" at describing the suicide was a figment of your imagination, stated for the sole purpose of belittling him. Does that bother you? Good.

If you think it's wrong to call the dead names because they can't reply, but it's OK to call a living person with feelings and emotions names -- especially one with whom you had actually interacted -- who could no longer respond to your insults, tell us why. Your short memory is very convenient and your ersatz concern for people's feelings is touching.

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Post by Huckleberry » Fri Dec 02, 2005 11:42 am

Pizza, even before I joined this forum, I had heard that you were an unkind "person" (or whatever "Pizza" is), to the point of being cruel. In fact I was witness to your irresponsible, cruel behaviour towards one of the gentlest, most unprejudiced beings one could know.

You called this sweet, harmless person an "anti-semite".

Take responsibility for your words, Pizza. If I were you, I'd try some introspection and then, with a stroke of luck, bow my head in shame.

I know that you will fight me now, but it doesn't matter. Now that I have said what I had to, you don't belong in my universe. Gentle people should be done with you - unless you recognize how vicious your words can be.
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Post by karlhenning » Fri Dec 02, 2005 11:57 am

pizza wrote:I simply pointed out that [Herman's] gratuitous description of BWV 1080's "happiness" at describing the suicide was a figment of your imagination, stated for the sole purpose of belittling him. Does that bother you? Good.

If you think it's wrong to call the dead names because they can't reply, but it's OK to call a living person with feelings and emotions names -- especially one with whom you had actually interacted -- who could no longer respond to your insults, tell us why. Your short memory is very convenient and your ersatz concern for people's feelings is touching.
All this objection entirely to the point.
Karl Henning, PhD
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston, Massachusetts
http://members.tripod.com/~Karl_P_Henning/
http://henningmusick.blogspot.com/
Published by Lux Nova Press
http://www.luxnova.com/

herman
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Post by herman » Fri Dec 02, 2005 1:43 pm

karlhenning wrote:
pizza wrote:I simply pointed out that [Herman's] gratuitous description of BWV 1080's "happiness" at describing the suicide was a figment of your imagination, stated for the sole purpose of belittling him. Does that bother you? Good.

If you think it's wrong to call the dead names because they can't reply, but it's OK to call a living person with feelings and emotions names -- especially one with whom you had actually interacted -- who could no longer respond to your insults, tell us why. Your short memory is very convenient and your ersatz concern for people's feelings is touching.
All this objection entirely to the point.
Except for one minor point - I have not called anybody names.

I don't call anybody "idiot", I don't call people "cowards", I don't pun with their names - none of all these things. So there goes your whole diatribe.

Gregory Kleyn

Post by Gregory Kleyn » Fri Dec 02, 2005 8:59 pm

How does the old ditty go again about "sticks and stones may break my bones..."?

You boys all grab your balls and gloves now and hurry on home. It's getting dark.

Huckleberry
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Location: A mostly gentle person in a mostly gentle land

Post by Huckleberry » Sat Dec 03, 2005 12:56 am

Gregory Kleyn wrote:How does the old ditty go again about "sticks and stones may break my bones..."?

You boys all grab your balls and gloves now and hurry on home. It's getting dark.
Pray, Gregory the Watchful, what should the girls do?! Put on our little nighties, brush our hair a hundred times, and ask God to bless our mummies & daddies, the bad little boys who call each other filthy names, our hamsters with fevers ...



(Just kidding. :wink: )
I finally know what I want to be when I grow up:
Chief Dog Brusher, Music Room Keeper, and Assistant Sunlight Manager
in a hillside Mansion for Ancient Musicians.

pizza
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Post by pizza » Sat Dec 03, 2005 12:54 pm

Huckleberry wrote:Pizza, even before I joined this forum, I had heard that you were an unkind "person" (or whatever "Pizza" is), to the point of being cruel. In fact I was witness to your irresponsible, cruel behaviour towards one of the gentlest, most unprejudiced beings one could know.

You called this sweet, harmless person an "anti-semite".

Take responsibility for your words, Pizza. If I were you, I'd try some introspection and then, with a stroke of luck, bow my head in shame.

I know that you will fight me now, but it doesn't matter. Now that I have said what I had to, you don't belong in my universe. Gentle people should be done with you - unless you recognize how vicious your words can be.
Frankly, Huck, I don't know what you're talking about. If I called a "sweet, harmless person an "anti-Semite", it wasn't because he/she/it said something sweet and harmless. But as far as I can remember, I never called anyone on these boards an anti-Semite. Perhaps you could refresh my memory.

What any of your gratuitous attack on my alleged character has to do with my pointing out to Herman the hypocracy of his lecture to BWV 1080 on the etiquette of speaking about the dead or others unable to respond to insults escapes me.

herman
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Location: Dutch Sierra

Post by herman » Sat Dec 03, 2005 4:52 pm

pizza wrote: But as far as I can remember, I never called anyone on these boards an anti-Semite. Perhaps you could refresh my memory.
You have called me an anti-semite and a Nazi on occasion. Reason why was I live in Holland, so I guess it figures. :roll:

pizza
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Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 4:03 am

Post by pizza » Sat Dec 03, 2005 11:46 pm

herman wrote:
pizza wrote: But as far as I can remember, I never called anyone on these boards an anti-Semite. Perhaps you could refresh my memory.
You have called me an anti-semite and a Nazi on occasion. Reason why was I live in Holland, so I guess it figures. :roll:
That's a damn lie, Herman.

Moreover, you're not the "sweet and gentle" person Huckleberry could have been referring to by any stretch.

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