Last modified: 7:58 AM Saturday, 14 January 2017

On pronouns and morality

Sometimes I think there is nothing in language so morally compromising as the first-person plural personal pronoun. When we say “we,” all too often it signals a fatal identification with a parochial group that tends to imply a corresponding willingness to disassociate ourselves from humanity as a whole. How many psychological studies have shown us how dangerous that can be?

Bradley Manning

Bradley Manning: If “innocent,” he should be freed; if “guilty,” he should receive a medal of honor.
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In this case, P.J. Crowley has been so avid to make himself a part of the granfalloon “America” that he has lost his ethical path and begun to tell anodyne lies.

To begin: The treatment accorded alleged WikiLeaks source PFC Bradley Manning in military detention has been widely documented, and includes 23-hour-a-day isolation, denial of access to such amenities as sheets on specious grounds of self-injury prevention, and daily inspections requiring him to strip in view of other inmates. Taken together, this represents far more than “stupid” public relations; indeed, no unbrutalized mind could perceive it as less than psychological torture.

Then Crowley goes on to try to induce sympathy by telling us what wonderful people we Americans are, that we are “admired” for “practicing what we preach.” Such a description might fit many, or even most, individual citizens, but as a summary of U.S. policy it is wretched, and as an interpretation of the world’s perceptions of U.S. behavior it is risible.

Mr. Crowley, you may report to your apparent ethical antecedent, Aleister, that you have failed. There is no “we” here. Your reasoning is unsound, the needle of your moral compass spins at random, and your pronouns are defamatory.

Originally published as an adverse review of a Guardian opinion article suggesting that the treatment of Bradley Manning is “stupid public relations” rather than torture.

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