Home > Security and Violence > Freedom to say “fuck the troops”

Freedom to say “fuck the troops”

September 21, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

I do not say “fuck the troops”. It seems pointlessly hateful. I am not against “the troops” but the system that sends them to war and brings them back wounded if at all, and forces everyone to pay them for the dubious privilege of dying for the state. But I do believe the freedom to express such opinions should be valued. Facebook has removed a page called “Fuck the Troops” under pressure. Its action demonstrates society’s contempt for freedom of speech.

A new page of the same name sprouted in its place within the past 24 hours, and it has already been subject to the same venomous insults and threats as the old one. The “Support the Troops” people have returned in full force, replete with swearing and non sequiturs. They claim to value freedom but express their willingness to force others to stop talking or leave the country. They are convinced US soldiers have fought for freedom, but have no evidence of a causal link between whatever freedoms Americans have left and war. (In fact, wars are inevitably an opportunity for the state to expand and take away liberties.) They claim today’s wars are necessary to protect American lives, when they make not only troop deaths but the risk of terrorism rise. More importantly, they betray the very principle they purport to believe in–freedom–by telling others to shut up or risk violence.

Diversity of opinions is healthy, especially on issues of such moral implications. Uniformity of opinion benefits the ruling class so that it can be seen to appeal to it (as, for instance, when a politician gets photographed standing next to a group of soldiers in Afghanistan and his poll numbers rise the next day). The state thus spreads the idea soldiers are heroes through the school system and by honouring them for whatever reason, creating heroes when necessary. It is part of its efforts to spread nationalism, which helps support wars in the name of the nation. But open minds and intellectual honesty are essential for addressing social problems. The arguments of the Fuck the Troops page, along with the equally-provocative “Soldiers are not heroes. They are tools of war.” and “The Troops are Welfare Whores” are the troops should not be venerated as they are. People should listen to them.

In less complex, tribal societies, soldiers are defenders. They train in order to protect their people from aggression. It makes sense for us to respect, admire and support them. But modern nation states do not have such soldiers. War conducted by advanced democracies such as the US, the UK and Israel has nothing to do with defense and everything to do with expanding the state into new areas of the world. Soldiers have become the agents of this imperial conquest. We live in a world of information, where the truth about war (such as US Army Special Forces veteran Stan Goff’s admonition to young people considering a career such as his) is available. The modern soldier, whom I believe is a victim of war, nonetheless has the ability to reconsider working for the military. Removing the social pride that comes from enlisting and replacing it with a stigma could mean more refusal to go to war.

At any rate, at stake in this conflict is freedom of speech. Believing in freedom means tolerating those with different opinions, and taking comfort in the knowledge that if the truth prevails, they will be proven wrong. Telling those who disagree with you to shut up, leave the country or die means you do not believe in freedom.

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  1. September 21, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    This is one of the best blog posts I have ever read.

  2. chuck u farley
    September 24, 2012 at 12:54 am

    Umm… Well SAID!!! I think I get your message, now…. that the warriors of OUR nation are being used as pawns, not defenders….

  3. October 21, 2012 at 11:25 pm

    I heard someone comment that the censorship is not being done by the state, so it’s not violent. I think it misses the point, though, as there is still bullying taking place, and that is what is wrong when the state does it. Moreover, some of these raging statists are likely to call for or at least support a law criminalising this kind of free expression.

  4. December 26, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    Hmm it looks like your website ate my first comment (it was super long)
    so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I submitted and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog.
    I as well am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still new to everything. Do you have any suggestions for rookie blog writers? I’d certainly appreciate it.

  5. December 27, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    Sorry to hear it ate your comment, but thanks! The only advice I feel qualified to give is to figure out what kind of content you want to write (think of a niche) and write really good stuff. That’s what they say: content is king. That said, there is a lot you can learn about social media marketing that I don’t do much but all the info is out there.

  6. January 3, 2014 at 1:04 pm
  7. Velocet8
    July 15, 2015 at 7:08 am

    That quote isn’t real, Thoreau never said that.

  1. February 7, 2014 at 8:34 pm

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