They Shoot People, Don’t They?

“‘They don’t really advertise that they kill people,’ Funk said. ‘I didn’t really realize the full implications of what I was doing.'” — Marine Reservist Stephen Funk, on why he refused to report for active duty, “Marine: ‘I refuse to kill’,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 4/2/03

You have to be a really interesting sort of ignorant not to know that the Marines kill people from time to time. Your first hint: The big rifle so many of those Marines carry around. Your second hint: All those movies, books and television shows, widely available to the general public, in which Marines are shown, you know, killing people. Your third hint: The fact that the Marines are widely acknowledged to be a branch of the military of the United States, and militaries are likewise widely known, by most people who are smart enough to stand upright on two legs, to kill other people on occasion (typically members of other nations’ militaries, though sometimes they’re not so picky, depending on country and context).

This rather goopy column on Stephen Funk describes a kid who got over 1400 on his SATs and got accepted to a number of excellent colleges, including my own University of Chicago, which is widely known (when it is widely known at all) for being the sort of school that remarkably stupid people don’t usually have high on their wish list of collegiate destinations (Funk eventually landed at University of Southern California, which is not nearly as an encouraging indication of intelligence, but never mind that right now). In short, Funk is portrayed as a very smart kid, not the sort of person who, for example, needs a reminder that coffee may be hot, so please don’t place it near your genitals, or, as another example, that the Marines occasionally go to war and kill people, being that they are an arm of the military.

The column piece suggests that the Marine recruiter filled Funk’s head so full of tales of wild adventure and technical training that our young hero couldn’t even contemplate the idea that Marines might go to war, which I would expect is true as far as it goes. The armed forces of the US spend a lot of time and money in their recruiting commercials pushing things like skills training, money for college and seeing the world, and less time pushing things like no showers for weeks, endless Meals Ready to Eat and the possibility of having to put a bullet into the gut of someone who wants to do the same thing to you but is slightly less quick on the draw, and who will then go down screaming because you’ve just turned a large portion of his small intestine into a crimson mess with the consistency of Libby’s potted meat food product.

But even then, there’s always the indication that the military is not exactly a peaceable organization. Take the Marines recruiting site. On the front page are three pictures, one of which features Marines handling rifles. Put your mouse over the pictures, and Java script pops up text. “Those Who are Warriors. Those Who are Driven. Those Who Belong.” Click on “About the Marines” and the text that pops up reads, right from the beginning: “Marines are warriors. Comprised of smart, highly adaptable men and women, the Marine Corps serves as the aggressive tip of the U.S. military spear.” The picture on this page is a squad of Marines, rifles sighted and ready to shoot, stalking the photographer. To be strictly accurate on Funk’s immediate point, there’s nothing on the Marine recruiting site that I can see that specifically says anything about killing people. But on the other hand, all this talk of warriors and pictures of rifles doesn’t give the indication one is signing up for day care training, either.

The part of Funk’s quote above that rings true is the second part: “I didn’t really realize the full implications of what I was doing.” This, I believe. I think it’s entirely possible to sign up, get into training and then realize, holy crap, am I ever in the wrong place. Moreover, I think there’s absolutely no disgrace in realizing that — indeed, it’s better for everyone if you do, because the last thing I would want if I were a Marine would be a squadmate who’s not sure he’s ready to kill if he absolutely has to. Moral quandaries are fine, just not when an Iraqi Fedayeen is shooting at you wildly from the back of a fast-moving technical. Out with him.

But Funk and others in his situation should place the responsibility for this where it belongs: Not with a fast-talking recruiter, who promises adventure and fun and sort mumbles the fine print about having to shoot people under his breath, but with himself. He may not have realized what he was made of, but he almost certainly knew what he was getting himself into.

Update: More details to flesh out Funk’s reasons for wanting out. It’s looking less like he didn’t know killing was involved. Also, a gratifying admission: “Ultimately, it’s my fault for joining in the first place.” My respect for Mr. Funk has just gone up a tick or two.

50 thoughts on “They Shoot People, Don’t They?

  1. Good morning, John; love the new site. While I agree with you about people needing to take more accountability for their actions, I wish you wouldn’t cite the McDonald’s coffee case as an example of the same; if one actually reads the details of the case, it certainly seems not to be the victim’s fault for being naive. While it’s certainly a popular reference your readers would “get”, it’s still perpetuating a misperception.

    Case specifics:

    http://www.centerjd.org/free/mythbusters-free/MB_mcdonalds.htm

  2. Fair enough and good point. I’ve taken out the overt McDonald’s reference, although I’m still leaving in the general coffee reference because no matter what I think it’s fairly self-evident one should not put hot liquids near one’s crotch. Be that as it may, it should have also been equally self-evident to McDonald’s that serving coffee at a temperature hot enough to induce third-degree burns would eventually lead to problems.

    The fact that the company *continued* to sell scalding coffee even in the face of customer complaints is fascinating in itself (it’s in the link if y’all care to look). I mean, what’s the cost-benefit ration in just turning down the heat? Unless the coffee machines were manufactured only had one temperature setting — but who’s the idiot who would make those? Arrrrgh — stupidity is everywhere! Someone should write a book.

  3. I heard the rumor that the reasoning behind McDonald’s use of exceptionally high temperature coffee was because they had offered free coffee refills, and had calculated out that based on the length of the average stay in the McDonald’s dining area, their coffee would not be consumable until after the customer had left, and surrendered their option for the refill.

    Does anyone know anything about this?

  4. I recently went to a naval recruiter.
    In all honesty, those guys act like any person who is trying to sell you something. Not only did they assure me that the navy is 50 percent women, they told me that if I did not sign up that day, there were limited spots left, and I might miss my shot. Limited spots left. In the Navy. An indeterminate amount of time before an expected war.

    This was a few months ago- I am in my late 20s.
    When I was 20 or so, I answered one of thos ads promising to make you a “manager” where they sit you down in a group and tell you how much money you can make selling imitation colognes.
    Had I fallen for such sales tactics then, I might have ended up with a closet full of foul smelling liquid.
    This guy fell for it, and ended up in a situation where he has to kill.

    If not for the minor “killing” part, I’d say learning to navagate an encounter with a snake oil salesman is a rite of passage. But lets not overlook the lesson this kid learned: Don’t trust salesmen- even if they work for the government, right? Maybe things did sound fishy to him, but these recruiters have one job- to make the sale. This kid did the wrong thing: He took what a representative of the US government at face value, not realizing that this was also a salesman.
    Like the delta brother said “You messed up- you trusted us.”
    Smart people don’t never make mistakes- they learn from them.
    He should take responsibility for what he did wrong- trusting the govt.- maybe we should spin the story that way.

  5. His conscientious objector letter was very eloquent. So… why didn’t he submit it when he was called to active duty, instead of waiting to be charged with desertion? That’s the part I think is kind of stupid.

  6. Obviously, claiming not to be aware of that nasty killing part of Marine life is not going to fly. One assumes that a potential recruit has thought at least somewhat about whether they can handle those issues before the first handshake with a recruiter. But I once visited a recruitment office with a friend and then had a debate with his father about it (who used to be a recruiter). He told me of all the high pressure sales tactics they use (which were akin to what I would imagine one does when trying to get lost souls to enter a cult). He freely admitted this, but my argument is that you are going to get a better crop of guys who are both physically and psychologically ready to handle the ramifications of violence if you are upfront with them and can weed out the the ones who find they can’t stomach it (or the ones who find they like it a little TOO much.) How many 18 year olds really know how they are going to react in that kind of high pressure situation anyway? His response? He got rewarded on numbers, not so much quality. The theory is that they can fix anyone after they are in training to be in the right mindset for war. Interesting. (I thought they were looking for a *few good* men?) Maybe this plan works less well on reservists?

  7. I think Lisa’s comment about being able to “fix” people so they are ready for war is the reason behind the hatred that Funk describes in the military.

    I’ve been training in martial arts for many years, and a big part of the mentality for the self-defense “gurus” is truthfulness. Before you can decide whether you want to practie self defense, you need to decide whether you are willing to injure or even kill someone who is threatening your life.

    I think it’s a valid question, because not everyone can honestly say that. Many people aren’t sure whether they could kill someone else whether or not their own life was in danger. That’s where the military “training” comes in: by painting the enemy (whoever that may be) as inhuman monsters, they can increase the chances that all of the recuits will be able to kill the enemy when necessary.

  8. OK, maybe boot camp has changed some in the past 30 years, but HE DIDN’T KNOW MARINES MIGHT HAVE TO KILL PEOPLE? I’ll believe “I didn’t inhale” first.

  9. A nice, witty, sarcastic “Whatever”. MT has definately resulted in an improvement in my day. I am certain that you wouldn’t have posted that in the previous incarnation of your (not-really-a-blog) blog.

    Oh, and the Marines need ditch-diggers too (not just the Army). Meaning not every Marine is in a position to *have* to kill the enemy. They have clerks, drivers, planners, cooks, etc..

  10. Re: The reference to McDonalds coffee

    My two year old granddaughter knows enough to put her hands behind her and back away saying “hot!, hot!” when she sees a steaming cup of liquid.

    I don’t buy the pin-headed lawyers’ claims that a resturant is responsible if someone is stupid or clumsey enough to dump a cup of hot coffee in his own lap. The resturant can’t give an IQ test to every customer. They are no more responsible for the foolish or careless actions of their customers than the folks who grew the coffee beans, or the people who made the coffee machine, or for that matter the kid working behind the counter that sold the coffee.

  11. Gee, I must have of missed something in all my years in the Navy. I don’t remember the “painting the enemy as inhuman monsters” bit. Or even just “less than human.”

  12. I think it is time that we bring back the scarlet letter only we stamp moron on such people. There is only so much stupidity that should be tolerated.

  13. The dude was UA… he should (and will be prosecuted for that)

    If he has truly changed his view and is now a CO then he can stick with his unit until his CO letter gets through the chain, his unit won’t put him on the line with an active CO letter.

    Do recruiters push the technical benefits.. yeah.. the awards system for recruiters is all numbers… and part of that numbers game is recognition that a certain number will attrit in boot camp… This dude should have attrited… rang the bell…

    Part of me think that his reportedly continued presense in anti-war rallies changed his mind, and some hippe sea lawyer telling this guy… you can be a CO dude… when they call you just don’t show up… (which is telling the guy to commit a crime… missing unit movement…)

  14. As someone who went through the Army’s basic training twice (OSUT for infantry and OSUT for armor) I’d like to note a few things. First off, the training does not make the enemy out as an inhuman monster. Rather the point is made that 1) It is him or you in battle 2)The enemy is just a target to shoot, the enemy is de-personalized. On the shooting ranges in the Army the targets are just silhouettes.
    As to recruiting, the combat arms are only a small percentage of troops, thus recruiters have to wave the benefits in peoples faces to get them to join. Later, these guys may do their time and leave or decide to stay. The thing I have noticed is that lots of folks were only going to do one enlistment and then stay in years all the way up to retirement. When you join up you never know what will happen.
    That said, everybody in basic gets combat training, one would think that a guy with an SAT of 1400 would be able at least infer that means possibly killing people. In basic is proper place to realize you do not want to have to face killing someone and get out. Anyway as was already pointed out, the Marines have always sold themselves as Warriors while the Army played up the “our training will be of value in the civilian world” angle.
    One last thing, the Army does go for numbers above all, I met an endless stream of the pathetic and jacka**es in the combat arms. I seriously believe the Army should sneak in psychological testing into the pre-enlistment testing and not have low standards for it!

  15. Working on enlisting in the Navy Reserves right now. My recruiter hasn’t been very slick or much like a car salesman at all. Must be the reserves as opposed to active duty recruiters.

    Of course, I’m 32 and don’t hang out at antiwar rallies.

  16. Jon at 4:40:
    “…not every Marine is in a position to *have* to kill the enemy. They have clerks…”

    …Clerks like Private Lynch?

    I don’t care if you sign up as a MEDIC–the purpose of the military is, ulitimately, to project lethal force. Everybody, from cooks to combatants, is there to do that one nasty job. The fact that you do not have a gun in your hand is irrelevant.

    And as Lynch proved, no matter what your assignment is, at any moment you may be called upon to defend yourself and your comrades.

    I’m reminded of the scene in “We Were Soldiers” where Sgt. Major Plumely tells civilian reporter Galloway to grab a rifle:

    “But, sir, technically I’m a non-combatant.”

    “No such thing out here, boy.”

    (I understand that the real Galloway actually showed up with a rifle, having had this conversation elsewhere. He manned several weapons, including a machine gun, as well shooting great pictures, during his tour of Vietnam.)

    Stuff like this is one of the better arguments against conscription.

    And, I might add, one of the better arguments for wide-spread gun ownership and self-defense training. None of us ever knows, really.

  17. He may have gone up a notch in your estimation, but not in mine. I’m offended by his “identification” with the oppressed peoples of the world, and his noting of the “hatred” he encountered in boot camp. This implies that Marines are the oppressors looking to take out their hatred on the oppressed. This is why he cannot continue. Yep. That’s the USMC. Hating, oppressing, killing machines.

  18. Why take out the McDonalds reference? Hell, people have sued for far stupider things…like suing fast food restaurants because the food was making them fat. Go figure.

    As for the guy who refused to show up for active duty because “he didn’t know marines killed people…” I say that has to be the sorriest excuse for not wanting to fight. I mean, hell..as John pointed out, that’s just basic knowledge. In my opinion, he should face punishment for AWOL status, and as an ex-marine myself, (got out after 6 years), I know that they can be pretty harsh especially during times of war. Too bad they don’t shoot people for going AWOL during times of war..that’d teach a few people a lesson..

  19. It’s simple. He joined the Marines foe economic reasons. He can either do his time or pay for his raining. His family seems to be supportive. They can shell out $100 k and he can go home as a CO or they can refuse and he can go to Iraq or jail. He rolled the dice and lost and now he wants the taxpayers to cover his bet.

  20. Действительно, не от мира сего…

    Американский морской пехотинец отказался воевать в Ираке. Думаете, почему? Не потому, что он возражает против войны в Ираке, нет. Потому

  21. The reason McDonald’s coffee was brewed so hot is that coffee tastes better that way (in fact, before the spread of specialty coffeeshops, McD’s was well-known for the quality of its coffee for this very reason). If you do a quick survey of coffee afficionado sites, you’ll find that the consensus is that, for proper extraction of flavor, coffee should be brewed with water that is 190-200 degrees. That’s about 10 degrees hotter than McD’s coffee was.

    I’ve never heard of the “Center for Justice and Democracy,” but its pretty plain from their site that they are aligned with the plaintiff’s trial bar (even though they deny any association). Nothing wrong with that, but their view of the case — and recitation of its “facts” — should be read accordingly.

    Even according to the CJD, from 1982-1992, about 64 people per year were “burned,” of which “many” were severe (how many? how many of these “burns” were totally insignificant? how many cups of coffee does McD’s sell a year?). By comparison, how many people bought coffee from McD’s because it tasted better than coffee from other places where it isn’t brewed as hot?

    As for the rumor about the coffee being hot to keep people from getting refills — come on. The cost of the coffee itself is so low that the potential savings from such a scheme would barely be measurable.

    By the way, you have to love absurd statements like the following from the CJD’s write-up of this case: “McDonald’s admitted that it did not warn customers of the nature and extent of this risk and could offer no explanation as to why it did not.” In other words, yes it does say, “Warning: Contents Hot,” but it doesn’t tell you that this means you could get BURNED! In the ideal world of the plaintiff’s lawyer, you couldn’t buy a product without a foot of fine print warnings…

    By the way, yes, I am a lawyer. And no, I’m not in favor of tort reform. The McDonald’s coffee case, though I think it was a bad result, is not typical, and I think reform would do far more harm than good.

  22. I am a U.S. Marine. This kid is full of it. If he is as smart as his SAT scores show, he should know better. I mean, that’s why they call us the “Armed Services”, beacuse we carry “Arms” and use them on other people from time to time. They don’t call us “The Armed-only-for-target-practice Services”. I will admit that some of our recruiters are the best in their profession. And yes, recruiting is selling. But trust me when I say that by the time you get on the plane,train, or bus to boot camp, it has been made very clear to you, of what you are getting yourself into. I’ll tell you what this kids problem is. We see it all the time. He wants to be a Marine becuse it’s cool to say you’re one, we have nice uniforms, and we help out with college tuition. No one ever figures, their going to get the call to war. That’s usually when we find out who’s here because he cares about his family and everyone else’s family in this great nation. Most of us do it because we live here, and somebody has to do it. If not men like me then who? When I swore my oath to defend the Constitution of the United States, I didn’t swear it to the Government or any Federal or State institution. I swore it to my mother, father, sisters, and brothers. I swore to every man, woman and child that resides here and/ or longs for the freedom to live like we Americans. And I swore it before God. That’s why most of us wear this uniform. This kid, just didn’t have that kind of commitment in his heart when he made his promise. All this other stuff about,”Oh, I didn’t know I had to shoot people.” is a crock. What he was really thinking was “Oh, I didn’t know I was really going to have to go somewhere where I might get shot.” is more like it.

  23. But yet, I can see this scenerio:

    Naive Guy contiplating recruitment: Yeah, it all sounds great, and then I could go to college and learn a trade and travel the world! But I just don’t know. I don’t know if I could kill.

    Recruiter: Oh, but you don’t have to! There are plenty of ways you can contribute to your country in the Marines. You can choose medicine or machinary or administration or embassy work. The chances that you really are ever going to have to kill people is slim to none.

    Naive Guy: Oh, really? I can choose what I want to do in the corps? Well, I’ve always tinkered with cars and machinary. I could do that.

    Recruiter: Well, then, lets just sign you up.

    My “sister in law” and her husband were both in the corps but she was a journalist and he was a machinary operator. From what I’ve gathered, this was the sell her husband got. This family, with seven Marines in it, were moved around and shifted units quite often with little input from themselves about where they would end up or what they would be doing. This is the nature of the military, and this increases during wartime. I’m not sure if people realize the full ramifications of how much your life and your decision making you turn over to the military once you sign up. I’m still not defending the guy for not thinking that he would ever be in a position where he would have to kill people…but I’m saying its not that far out there to think that a young guy who is especially naive (notice I didn’t say moronic) could think he might be able to enter the marine reserves and never kill anyone. A tactic they use (especially with my sister in law, who as a woman, was told “there are so many other ways to serve besides combat…all which are just as important to serving our country.)I don’t blame recruiters for selling the advantages of serving in the military, but I also think that they have somewhat of a responsibility (and may get better recruits with less drop-out rate, thus saving us taxpayers some money) if they would be a little more well-rounded and realistic with these young people in the picture that they are given of military life.

  24. Prison. For the rest of his hitch. Then a Dishonorable Discharge. His future employers must know his level of honesty and commitment.

    Stupid shitcake.

  25. Think of how much better off we are as a country not having a (Red Forman) DUMBASS(/Red Forman) as a Marine.

  26. I can’t belive this kid did not understand the situation he was putting himself into. If he wanted a career, than join the Air Force. There is not a job in the Marine Corps that does not involve a M-16A2 service rifle. We do not even have our own medics; we rely on the Navy. The Marine Corps is a special forces unit in itself. This kid wanted the pride of being designated a Marine, but did not want to do the duty that makes the Marines the pride of the Armed Forces. We are the President’s own (any President, I served under Clinton), we are America’s 911 (emergency) force. My brothers and sisters are now serving in Iraq, and this kid is an example that not all individuals have the have the same commitment to service. We, as a fighting force, understand that most indiviuals would not, or could not, do what we do on a daily basis. We also do not expect any great applause, we do what we do because it needs to be done, not because we are loved or hated for it. I thank all the people serving in the military for doing what they do for our freedom, and that is why you should feel special, because most individuals do not want to do it. So if some little boy can’t
    handle the pressure, it is better to get him out now, before he kills someone in the long run. Semper Fi.

  27. Hi excuses don;t wash. What did he think he was doing during boot camp bayonet training – when you repeatedly stab human shaped targets with a bayonet while yelling “Kill!” at the top of your lungs?

    He comitted a crime: desertion.

    He will get “6&6 and a kick”: reduction to E-1, 6 Months total forfeitures of all pay and allowances, 6 months prison time in the Navy Brig, and a Bad Conduct Discharge that will haunt him the rest of his life – its essentially the same as a federal felony conviction in its impact on your ability to register to vote, own a firearm, hold certain government jobs, etc.

  28. I was glad to see that this individual came clean now. In reality if he had been placed in a combat situation and had to defend himself he would, and if he had to use yhe rest of his life regretting it, at least he would have had the rest of his life. As it is he should be disciplined and separated from the Corps . His presence in a unit now would only be counter productive and corrosive. Few Marines are cold blooded killers. They fight and serve because they know it is right, and know that if not they, then who. In combat the Flag, Mom and apple pie a forgotten and you fight because the Marin next to you is fighting for you as you are for him. You have to respect and trust each other

  29. I think some people commenting
    are missing something here.
    This guy Ain’t no boot recuit
    He’s a reserve MARINE. He did his
    tour (4 years) & now he is getting
    paid for a weekend a month away from
    the wife & kids OR free travel to a
    couple nights on the town.
    also the “plenty of other ways to
    serve other than combat holds water
    for Navy, Air Force, even Army.
    BUT Marine = combat
    Why didn’t he sign on to another branch?

  30. I guess the CO excuse was not enough, now this guy says he is a fag. Don’t they have to transfer him to the Navy now? If we wait he will also claim to be an illegal alien from another planet. What a dirtbag! I would airdrop him into Baghdad right now and see how CO he really is.

  31. Actually this young man should be praised for calling attention to the fact that he is, in fact, a moron. Marines like Stephen Funk end up costing the lives of other Marines…those who have to rely on him in a combat situation. Send him off to college…it is obvious he has a glorious future conducting teach-ins at Columbia with Nicolas De Genova.

  32. I’m with TX Vet here. The Marines aren’t just military, they’re the willingest, drillingest, killingest part of the military, and everybody knows it. The saying goes:

    If you want to learn a trade, join the Army.
    If you want a bunk every night, join the Navy.
    If you want to fly, join the Air Force.
    If you want to fight, join the Marines.

    It’s impossible this doofus never got the word.

  33. Okay, this is my point. Not every one is cut out to be a marine or desires to. If at all possible, these people should be weeded out before they enlist, go through boot camp, etc. Again, my point I am trying to make is not that this individual is justified in how he decided to leave the marines, whether it was a belated CO or desertion. It sounds like he loused up a respectable and graceful exit. However, changing ones mind, finding that what you thought was a good decision for you was a bad move on your part, is not a crime or disrespectful…it’s smart. And if there were more honest recruitment tactics, many people would be able to decide this before entering the corps…rather than after. That is the only thing I’ve argued here that may help avoid situations like this in the future.

  34. Oh, of the nine marines I know in my family, letsee. One heating/air conditioning guy, two machine machanics, one journalist, one embassy guard, one drill instructor, one infantryman, one artillary man, one admin clerk. Is that nine? So two real combat positions, a couple of maybes (embassy guard, drill instructor) and the rest non-combat. Anyway, there are tons of non-combat positions in the Marines. Yes, I think its implied that you may always be in a situation to fight…but I think that you could go in and think you could avoid combat. But yes, I agree with you that it would be a poor risk choice if you really thought you wanted a military career w/o combat. (well, unless you are a woman.)

  35. I’m not sure about the marines, but in may of the forces you can now just go straight to the reserves without putting in your 4 years.

    I will be leaving shortly for officer training for the Air force, and then pilot training. When I signed up, there were very specific papers to read and sign, including the statement that you may at some time be called upon to kill others in service to your country, up to and including your personal use of nuclear weapons. Now, a Marine probably wouldn’t have to worry about nukes, but I can’t imagine there isn’t a similar statement to sign.

  36. Maybe Funk didn’t read “All Marines are riflemen first”. In my time in the Army, I have always been astounded at the soldiers who were willing to collect the paycheck as long as they were in the States, but the minute a deployment, even the obvious peacekeeoing came around, they suddenly had a fit of CO. UCMJ will suit him just fine.

  37. I have not seen the term “coward” used yet. Call a spade a spade. When push came to shove this kid caved. There are those who might say what he’s doing requires more courage, ala e.e. cummings’ i sing of olaf brave and big – pure B.S. Had he shown up when he was supposed to and simply refused to fight for whatever reason he may have had and taken his lumps accordingly, then one might have to respect his position. This kid should be removed from the corps and forced to repay every cent ever paid to him and every cent ever spent training him. Bottom line he broke faith and when the going got tough he balked.

  38. Obviously, the guy made a mistake- an obvious one, it would seem, but that’s neither here nor there. The real question, as I see it, is how Mr. Funk will respond to his punishment. If he accepts full responsibility for his decisions and deals with his mistake in a mature manner, then fine. It’s just as well for all concerned that he’s out of the military, so let him take his lumps and get on with his life. Of course, if he can’t face up to the consequences- fuck ‘im. Everyone makes mistakes, but it’s up to each individual to deal with his own mistakes in an appropriate fashion. In short, a man should be judged not by his errors, but by his willingness to atone and make right what has been put wrong.

  39. Re: McDonald’s. Actually, the result of the case was just right. McDonald’s had settled several hundred cases of accidental scalding, knew its coffee was hot enough to cause third-degree burns, and did nothing about it other than make secrecy a part of the settlements. The lady who spilled the coffee was wearing two layers of clothing and burned herself enough to require skin grafts. The jury found she was partially responsible, but also that no sane human being would reasonably expect coffee to be that hot. The original award (based on franchise-wide coffee sales) was later reduced on appeal, but was still substantial enough to cause McD’s to reduce the temperature of their coffee to something reasonable. The legal system worked just the way it was supposed to. The run-down:
    1. If you think McD’s coffee ever tasted good, you have no taste buds.
    2. If your coffee can cause third-degree burns when served, it’s too damn hot.
    3. If you knowingly serve something that can cause third-degree burns when served, and you’ve settled lawsuits galore, and refused to change your practice, you should be forced to pay significant damages, if only for being six kinds of idiot.
    4. Dan S., “warning: hot” wouldn’t do it. How about “this coffee is stupidly hot and can cause deadly burns, but we won’t do anything about it because we’re callous.” Coffee causes burns but properly prepared coffee doesn’t cause third-degree burns. BTW, your understanding of the proper coffee temperature for making good coffee is lacking: the way McD’s makes coffee does not require that temperature. Besides, if you like McD’s coffee, now or then, you have no business talking about the taste of coffee. Also, the facts of the case as presented on the website are accurate.

  40. My understanding was that hot coffee *can* taste better, and that’s why McDs used it: to disguise the awful taste of their awful, cheap coffee.

    (however, being a tea-drinker, I don’t know if McDs coffee is as bad as I often hear it is.)

    As for Funk: yes, he seems pretty stupid. IMHO, he joined the marines without knowing whether he could bring himself to kill someone. He finally decided, he couldn’t. He’s a moron for not having considered the question before, y’know, being ordered to go kill: hell, that really goes without saying. I’m (sort of) with Cpl Freels here: he has no business near the marines.

    But those (not merely in this comment thread) calling him a traitor, or a coward, or saying he should be shot — well, *you* go join the fucking marines. Armchair quarterbacking is an easy and fun way to show what a self-righteous, arrogant arsehole you are. But it’s unproductive, and in the end (funnily enough), everyone knows exactly what you are: a self-righteous, arrogant arsehole. If it is cowardly or traitorous not to be willing to go to Iraq and kill (or be killed), then surely you are just as cowardly. Surely you, too, are a traitor.

    I have the feeling Funk isn’t the only stupid person being discussed here. Get some fucking sense!

    (and apologies to John for using his site to flame… but I’m sure he’ll delete this if he objects)

  41. As someone who was unable to join the armed services due to a physical limitation, I am not only amazed at his stupidity, but also angry at his arrogance that he can claim CO status and get away clean. Lock him up.

  42. now he is saying that he is gay too.

    interesting though, in the last gulf war there were many other cases of service people refusing to serve, refusing to take vaccines etc.

    this war has much broader support and the desertion rate is very low.

    i vote moron.

    what about all that money that was spent training and housing and feeding.

    he pays that back by going to jail and getting a dishonorable discharge?

    interesting though that they have the recruits sign full disclosure documents.

    as goldie hawn said in Private Benjamin, “i am in the wrong army, i am the one with the condos and the water skiing…….. can i talk to to privately?….there are no curtains on these window (the barracks)…… i will be up at the crack of dawn…”

    welcome to the real world where actions have consequences.

  43. Funk voluntarily joins an elite combat outfit (at least that’s how they are known outside the USA) and then is “surprised” when he is deployed in combat. Perhaps he should try the Belgian army instead. (Now there is an insult none of you had thought of.) WHen ten Belgian paratroopers (their elite unit) were killed in a particularly vile fashion by Rwandan [expletives deleted], the families did not press for revenge or a punitive action: they merely claimed that their relatives would never have joined the paratroopers if they knew they might get killed (!!!). [This sort of mentality explains a lot about the Weasel-Poodle pact.]

    As for the coffee: the optimum *brewing* temperature (for the drip coffee process, at least) is indeed slightly below the boiling point of water at sea level. (That’s one reason why airplane coffee tastes so poor: for structural reasons, the cabin pressurization is only the equivalent of 3000 m, not sea level — hence the boiling points of water drops well below that temperature.) That does not mean the coffee has to be *served* at that temperature. (When I lived in the States, I hardly ever ate at McDrek, preferring Wendy’s instead, but I can’t recall either of them *ever* serving me fresh brew :-))

  44. I’ve been in Marine delayed entry for over 7 months now, finally going to boot in a little under a month. I’m going in as an aircraft mechanic, yet I can remember at least a couple instances where the recruiters have told me my job is to kill people and it has been heavily emphasized that all Marines are basic riflemen. Maybe interest is low where this guy came from, and the recruiters were desperate?

    [Note from John Scalzi 11/9/03 — this particular comment thread seems to be attracting a lot of spammers recently, so I’m closing it.]

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