Wednesday, January 13, 2010

This Was A Really Bad Idea Troop

An Iraq war veteran has been arrested and charged with threatening to kill his officers after recording a violent rap protest song and sending it to the Pentagon.

Marc Hall, a junior member of an infantry unit, wrote the song in protest at the US army's unpopular policy of involuntarily extending soldiers' service and forcing them to return to Iraq or Afghanistan.
Hall completed a 14-month spell in Iraq last year, expecting to be discharged next month, but was told he would have to go back to Iraq under the policy known as stop-loss.
The song includes lines saying the army "fucked me over", and a warning that he would shoot his officers and "watch all the bodies hit the floor".

The army has charged Hall with threatening to "go on a rampage" and has ordered him to be held in a military prison in Georgia to await trial.

But the soldier's civilian lawyer, James Klimaski, said Hall was using the hip-hop genre, which often includes violent lyrics, to legitimately voice disgruntlement among troops at stop-loss. The stop-loss policy has forced 185,000 service personnel to stay in the military beyond their contracts to meet the demand over two wars. Klimaski said: "These lyrics don't mean anything. Gangsta rap songs are always talking about killing people. If you listen to what the song's about, not the specific lines, it's against stop-loss. And it's the anger of troops who go over and come back and go over again and come back in an unending war."
Hall, who sings under the name Marc Watercus, directs his anger at officers. "Fuck you colonels, captains, E-7 and above. You think you so much bigger than I am? …" The song suggests he will round up the officers and put them against a wall. "I got a … magazine with 30 rounds, on a three-round burst, ready to fire down. Still against the wall, I grab my M-4, spray and watch all the bodies hit the floor. I bet you never stop-loss nobody no more."

Hall has issued a statement from military prison describing the song as free speech. He said he explained that the hardcore rap song "was a free expression of how people feel about the army and its stop-loss policy". He added: "The song was neither a physical threat nor any threat whatsoever … it was just hip-hop."


While one cans understand Marc Hall’s frustration with being stop lossed; setting his anger to gangster rap music was a really bad idea.  Mr. Hall was subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice and such protestations were to put it mildly frowned upon by the chain of command.
It was one of the odder things about defending democracy is how much one surrenders of your rights to defend the rights of others. You must submit to military discipline and the oxymoron that is military justice.
One of the more charming bits of the UCMJ is that if your commanding officer is so inclined he can punish you for just about anything that crosses his mind. It is called the general article or article 134. It states
"Article 134. General article:

Though not specifically mentioned in this chapter, all disorders and neglects to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces, all conduct of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces, and crimes and offenses not capital, of which persons subject to this chapter may be guilty, shall be taken cognizance of by a general, special , or summary court-martial, according to the nature and degree of the offense, and shall be punished at the discretion of that court.

Thus once a person signs that they will accept the tender mercies of the UCMJ, they are for most practical purposes, screwed. They cannot mouth off to their superiors, it is a crime.  They cannot threaten other servicemembers with bodily harm. They most certainly cannot threaten their superiors with death and dismemberment. Good order and discipline trump the First Amendment. Troopers can only indulge in gangster rap if the lyrics involve the designated enemies of the U.S. Bust a cap in OBL, no problem. Bust a cap in your Commanding Officer, no way.

Much of this is necessary, military members are issued some rather lethal hardware. The government has a vested interest in having those weapons aimed at designated targets. As Vietnam vets will attest, it is bad for moral when servicemembers start turning their weapons on each other. It tends to blunt operational efficiency.
Military operations, military discipline does require sacrifice. One sacrifices their individuality. One sacrifices their independence. You have to accept that others can tell you were you can go, when you can go, when you can go, even if you can go. A good portion of control is handed over to people who have little to no concern about how you think or feel about a certain operation or procedure. It is a lot of yes sir/ma’am, three bags full nonsense. You sign a document, not a contract, which the other party can alter at will without any input from you.

You do have the option to refuse to do what the military asks of you, you do have the option to protest via rap music but be under no illusion, the military reserves the right to slap you in prison for doing so. If you feel the urge to flip off the brass hats that have made your life hell, have the good sense to have your signed discharge papers in hand and be off base before you indulge.