May 18, 2012 archive

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5th Column Mouse

Which side are you on?

Human Moral Weakness and its consequences

Ian Welsh

2012 May 18

In 1971 Phillip Zimbardo set up a mock prison and divided eighteen college students into nine prisoners and nine guards. The guards had never been prison guards, the prisoners were guilty of nothing.

The experiment was due to run two weeks. It had to be stopped in six days. As Zimbardo himself says, “our guards became sadistic and our prisoners became depressed and showed signs of extreme stress.”

Why, specifically, did it end after 6 days?

First, we had learned through videotapes that the guards were escalating their abuse of prisoners in the middle of the night when they thought no researchers were watching and the experiment was “off.” Their boredom had driven them to ever more pornographic and degrading abuse of the prisoners.

Second, Christina Maslach, a recent Stanford Ph.D. brought in to conduct interviews with the guards and prisoners, strongly objected when she saw our prisoners being marched on a toilet run, bags over their heads, legs chained together, hands on each other’s shoulders. Filled with outrage, she said, “It’s terrible what you are doing to these boys!” Out of 50 or more outsiders who had seen our prison, she was the only one who ever questioned its morality.

Guilty of nothing. Put in solitary confinement, held in prison even when they begged and wept to be let go, made to push ups while someone sat on them, deprived of food, sexually humiliated, a boy sobbing unconrollably while other prisoners chant he is a bad prisoners.

And only one outsider finds anything wrong?

Some people are bad. Some people are rotten. Some people will do the wrong thing whenever given the least chance. And some people are good. Some people won’t shock another person, no matter who tells them to. Some people will risk their lives to create an underground railroad for slaves or will hide Jews and Gypsies so they can’t be killed by Nazis, even at great risk to themselves. Some people will see boys being treated horribly, and will speak up even though they’re only a recent Ph.D. and the person they’re telling off is a professor.

What did we do wrong?  We did nothing wrong.

Yeah, we did.  We were supposed to fight for the people who couldn’t fight for themselves.  We were supposed to fight for Willie.

On This Day In History May 18

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

Click on image to enlarge

May 18 is the 138th day of the year (139th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 227 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1917, U.S. Congress passes Selective Service Act.

Some six weeks after the United States formally entered the First World War, the U.S Congress passes the Selective Service Act on May 18, 1917, giving the U.S. president the power to draft soldiers.

When he went before Congress on April 2, 1917, to deliver his war message, President Woodrow Wilson had pledged all of his nation’s considerable material resources to help the Allies-France, Britain, Russia and Italy-defeat the Central Powers. What the Allies desperately needed, however, were fresh troops to relieve their exhausted men on the battlefields of the Western Front, and these the U.S. was not immediately able to provide. Despite Wilson’s effort to improve military preparedness over the course of 1916, at the time of Congress’s war declaration the U.S. had only a small army of volunteers-some 100,000 men-that was in no way trained or equipped for the kind of fighting that was going on in Europe.

To remedy this situation, Wilson pushed the government to adopt military conscription, which he argued was the most democratic form of enlistment. To that end, Congress passed the Selective Service Act, which Wilson signed into law on May 18, 1917. The act required all men in the U.S. between the ages of 21 and 30 to register for military service. Within a few months, some 10 million men across the country had registered in response to the military draft.

The World War I Draft

During World War I there were three registrations.

   The first, on June 5, 1917, was for all men between the ages of 21 and 31.

   The second, on June 5, 1918, registered those who attained age 21 after June 5, 1917. A supplemental registration, included in the second registration, was held on August 24, 1918, for those becoming 21 years old after June 5, 1918.

   The third registration was held on September 12, 1918, for men age 18 through 45.

After the signing of the armistice of November 11, 1918, the activities of the Selective Service System were rapidly curtailed. On March 31, 1919, all local, district, and medical advisory boards were closed, and on May 21, 1919, the last state headquarters closed operations. The Provost Marshal General was relieved from duty on July 15, 1919, thereby finally terminating the activities of the Selective Service System of World War I.

Today on The Stars Hollow Gazette

Our regular featured content-

And these featured articles-

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

This is an Open Thread.

The Stars Hollow Gazette