Sunday, April 26, 2009

Bill Maher in Uniform?

by Smitty

In response to the post about Bill Maher's self-hatred, there was an interesting question at Politics Across the Pond:
"Is volunteer military service a builder of character in men? Or are men of character drawn to military service?"
As the son of a career sailor, following dad's footsteps was an easy choice. You stick with what you know. The feel of the ship, with the smell of paint and fuel, the constant motion of people bustling about. It seemed an obvious direction, coming out of high school.
In the US, there is a clear distinction between civil rights and those in the military, falling under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. You trade freedom of action for freedom from worry about what to wear, where to sleep, when to be someplace, who feeds you. The liberal fascists admire this, and--they'll rarely say this explicitly--they want to remake civilian culture along these lines. Consider the Centurion in Luke 7:6-8
Then Jesus went with them. And when he was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying unto him, Lord, trouble not thyself: for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof:
Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed.
For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.
The business of "calling shots" is an intoxicating one. Coming back to the question, then, does military service build character, or are characters drawn to military service? Let me attack the question: why a logical OR? My answer is that people are people, and that military service has a catalytic effect. A coward will wash out immediately, and an honorable person, who balances individuality nicely with operating inside a large organization (a hint at where I diverged) will go far. The narcissism of a Bill Maher has a half life of about a week aboard a ship at sea. While it would would be catastrophic for a real unit to have such a clown running amok, there would be some jolly schadenfreude for any witnesses.


  1. I'm wondering when Maher will run for the Senate...

  2. If he joined the Navy, would Maher have been left hanging out over the water as shark bait the first week?

  3. @Mike:
    Maher is anything but a dummy. His survival instinct and low animal cunning would kick in, and he'd learn to get by.
    You'll note that I only predicted the demise of his narcissism. Whether or not he'd fall down a ladder, up a ladder, and fall down it again in the process of GROWING UP is too weedy a detail. It's bad form to wish ill on anyone, even a cretin.

  4. You're right - it's not an either or proposition. If only people of good character were drawn to the military, basic training would not have to be the unpleasant (Dare I say "torturous?") experience that it is. But because in every case our character is not perfectly formed, military service - and the harsh training it requires - helps refine it. Some people of character are drawn to service. Some people, because of the nature of military service, are inculcated with character as a consequence of their service. I would love to say otherwise, but any strength of character to which I can lay claim is a result, not of who I was naturally, but, of my military life and the civilizing influence of my wife.