Identity | The Daily Post

Find inspiration in one of the popular topics on Discover. For this week’s Discover Challenge, focus on identity. You may use it simply as a one-word prompt, or tell us what the word means to you. Or you might publish a sketch that represents who you are or how you feel today, a poem about identity in our digital age, or a personal essay about who you once were.

Source: Identity | The Daily Post

I began drafting this post around the time of one of the recent active shooter incidents in the US. It says so much that such incidents are now so frequent that I cannot remember which it was, possibly Orlando…

The aftermath of each of these incidents is marked by bitter ‘weapon’ versus ‘ideology’ outbursts and exchanges. I do not thing that either side really gets the issues: each tragedy is little more than an excuse for each camp to dust off (not dust-off which is a far more noble act) respective meme collections.

It is America’s right to have whatever laws, rights and responsibilities that it wants to inflict on itself. I have no more problem with the Second Amendment than I do with the Fifth although I would offer that the rights of the Second should be read and applied in the context of their context i.e. as the people’s contribution to a well-regulated militia…the key phrase being well-regulated.

The ‘right’ to espouse an ideology probably falls under the First Amendment…the one that protects free speech…but again that comes with responsibilities. We have probably all heard of, if not actually read or heard the actual words, Oliver Wendell Holmes “crying fire in a theatre” quote. For the record, this is what he actually said to give context to those words:

The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic. It does not even protect a man from an injunction against uttering words that may have all the effect of force. The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent. It is a question of proximity and degree.

Those legally bent or who just like to read some exceptionable well-written English can read Justice Holmes’ full opinion in the Cornell University Law School Legal Information Institute Web site.

Contrary to the good Justice’s opinion – the key work in his theatre analogy is ‘falsely’ – in the information domain, the random and rabid shotgunning of the information militia (plural) is as destructive regardless of whether it has elements of truth or fact or not.

Every time those ideological memes fly, their sole function, intended or not, is to fan the flames of ideological conflict. As much as I thought it needed work (thought #1, thought #2), what we are seeing is the phenomenon that David Kilcullen theorised in The Accidental Guerrilla: the more something is ‘fixed’, the worse it gets. This is the irony of irregular warfare.

With regard to the active shooter incidents in America, there is another factor in play that may not be present or which is certainly less present in incidents. A large element of American psyche identifies with the ‘main in the white hat’, ‘one riot, one ranger’, the rugged individual standing against all odds, etc. This ethic is quite commendable and certainly not unique to the US. What sets it about in the US though is the accompanying mindset that a gun is what you use to resolve an issue.

We’re not on any sort of moral high ground here or in Australia where the national equivalent is a punch in the head, or the desire to deliver such but that ‘message’ has to be delivered up close and personal, it cannot be delivered from across the street or even across the room; and it is far easier to neutralise. In the UK, or parts thereof, the local equivalent maybe a cloth cap or the good old ‘Liverpool kiss‘…again, attacks with limited projection or lethality from afar…

It is this overwhelming cultural drive that guns solve problems that is America’s challenge. It’s not how many guns you have or what sort they may be. It’s not what you believe or who you disagree with. It’s not how accessible guns or unsocial ideologies may be. Those may all be separate concerns  but, weapon or ideology, it’s the drive to resolve what angsts you with a gun that is the problem…

Jump to 1:02 The Lone Rider

I love those rugged individuals roles immortalised by Clint Eastwood, John Wayne, Jan Michael Vincent, etc etc but I don’t build my life around them. When I have a beef with the local council or my employer or the grit truck driver or the mailman, I don’t feel I have to to take a gun to resolve the issue or make myself feel better.

It is one thing when the line between reality and fiction becomes blurred. It is quite another when those worlds begin to overlap…where the ‘final option’ becomes the only option…

Having said that, we can hum ‘Imagine‘ all we like…COIN 101 reminds us that cultural shift happens over generations but being honest about the problem is the first step towards a solution…

Fill your hand, you sunnovabitch!!!


The Jeff Bridges’ version of True Grit opens here tomorrow…coincidentally, I only watched the original John Wayne version from 1969 on the weekend and commented to Carmen the other night that so much of the lines in the trailers for the remake were word-for-word from the original, I wondered if there was going to be much different about the new version other than Rooster gets to wear his patch on the other eye this time round…

So, imagine my surprise to read in today’s DomPost that “…where Wayne played Cogburn as a one-dimensional veteran gunslinger, the original Rooster of the novel (brilliantly rendered by Jeff Bridges in the Coen’s version) is drunken, half-blind, smelly and deeply flawed…” Furthermore, this amazing bad and inaccurate review, in this nation’s second largest daily, isn’t even by a Kiwi – it’s some loser called Ben Macintyre who writes for something called The Times…my recollection of John Wayne’s performance, only days old, is exactly of “…drunken, half-blind, smelly and deeply flawed…”

Dean’s comments yesterday notwithstanding – and they do apply more to general soldiery than to the specifics of those in sensitive roles – I really worry if that bumper sticker actually has a broader application beyond the intel community into the general information community. I’m reading Dean Koontz’ Cold Fire this week and parts of that also struck a similar chord with me as the reporter lead in the story laments to demise of good old fashioned ‘honest’ reporting in favour of what sells – and that was written in 1991…

I’m on base for the next couple of days and was able to catch the big TV in the bar free tonight and take it over to keep up with Coro – waiting to see how, not when, Molly and Kev’s little affair gets blown – but was reading today’s paper in the ad breaks. Maybe it was just a slow news day but I was disappointed at how superficial many of the items were…we don’t get  a paper delivered at home and, really, why would we bother if all it’s going to be good for is starting the fire and wrapping the frozens when we go away…

I find now that I get greater stimulus from the non-professionals on the internet; in fact, I would have to say that Michael Yon’s Facebook page, when he isn’t whining about milkooks, or general officers who have (apparently) slighted him, offers a very good range of cues; as do the Facebook pages for the USN’s Information Dominance Corp and Marine Corps Gazette; Small Wars Journal and Travels with Shiloh…

I wonder whether the maturity of the information age also means the demise of the true professional reporter in favour of info-marketeers who tailor their stories to specific markets (as opposed to audiences), and the rise of the information militia as the new voice of the ‘news’…?

I did find a couple of interesting titbits in the Dompost:

  • The capital of Afghanistan,Kabul, was rocketed by rebels – in 1993. It’s quite strange to think of a time where it was necessary to state that Kabul was the capital of Afghanistan.
  • And also on this day in 1944, NZ pilot Irving Smith led Mosquito bombers in a pinpoint raid on Amiens prison to save condemned prisoners. If nothing else, a timely reminder that airpower is more than just running a flying bus service and providing direct support to the troops on the ground.
  • In 1848, Mexico ends a US invasion by ceding Texas, New Mexico and California to the US. If Mexico does get a handle on the cartel wars soon, I wonder what they have to trade-off against the next US invasion..?
  • In 1979, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khoumeini becomes the de facto leader of Iran and the place has gone steadily downhill since. While Europe and the US get all antsy about Iran’s nuclear programme (but not Pakistan’s), the biggest risk offered by Iran to regional instability comes from its increasingly dissatisfied youth. The best thing that the US and NATO could do is invite Iran into Afghanistan, get it committed (entangled) by both its own rhetoric and the tarbaby mess that is Afghanistan; and then step back and watch it all unravel…Iran, that is – Afghanistan does need anyone’s help top unravel…just install an unpopular (in every sense of the word) leader and retire to a safe distance….