In which I ‘dream’ about whether it might be safer for Wallace to head the ACL than the SAS ….

As I went to bed last night, I couldn’t help wondering what might have happened if Brigadier Jim Wallace applied the same logic to his military career as he does to assessing mainstream academic literature and writing submissions on same-sex marriage to the Australian Senate.  I’m not suggesting he did, of course – by all accounts Wallace was an excellent military commander.

Sadly, the intellectual rigour that must surely be required of an SAS commander seems to be entirely absent in Wallace’s assessment of expert analysis on issues relating to abortion, same-sex marriage, voluntary euthanasia and other issues of public morality.

As I drifted off to sleep, I began to imagine what if – what IF – Wallace had applied the same quality of reasoning to his military decisions as he applies to his work with the Australian Christian Lobby.  The following scenario came to mind:

The scene:  Australian troops are in a war zone. The enemy is somewhere ‘out there’ but, where? At command HQ, the Brigadier has already decided where the enemy attack will come from and has deployed his troops. Meanwhile, intelligence arrives …

“The intelligence is in, Sir – the enemy are encamped in a cave, just over that hill to the north and they’re advancing in this direction.”

“Impossible!”

“Impossible?”

“Yes. It’s impossible. The enemy is hiding in the jungle, just over that river to the south.”

“Yes, sir, I’m sure that’s a very good assumption, but, actually the intelligence tells us otherwise.”

“Nonsense!”

“Sir! It’s been confirmed!”

“No it hasn’t.”

“Sir, I am sorry to argue with a superior officer, but I have reports from a number of very credible sources that the enemy is to the north and advancing in this direction.”

“What ‘credible sources’?”

“French intelligence, the UN, US surveillance, the British … there’s a very broad expert consensus on this, sir!”

“They’re all wrong. They’re just making it up, because they don’t want me to win.“

“But … sir! There’s a huge amount of evidence that you’re … er …. wrong.”

“I can’t be wrong, soldier. I know what I know.”

“But … sir!”

“Oh, for pity’s sake. Give me those documents – I’ll show you why they’re wrong!”

The soldier hands over the intelligence.

“See?  See here?  It says, “It seems impossible that the enemy would be to the north …”.  Just as I told you! It’s impossible. Even the so-called ‘experts’ agree!”

“Um … but sir, that’s only HALF the sentence. The other half says, “but, here are the photographs which prove it.”

“Those photographs could have been taken anywhere!”

“But, sir, why would all these agencies make it up?”

“It’s a conspiracy. They’re all against me. They’re just biased.”

“And you have evidence to prove that the enemy is to our south, Sir?”

“Of course I have evidence you miserable little soldier!  Look! Here!  Just this morning I received this document from Ramsbottom and Fitch confirming the enemy is definitely to the south. Absolutely no doubt about it.”

“Ramsbottom and Fitch? Aren’t they the ones who told us the enemy was in the west that time we got clobbered from the east?”

“Well, yes. But it doesn’t mean they were wrong! It just means the enemy must have snuck up from the west and then sneakily scaled that impassable mountain range in order to make us look stupid. It certainly doesn’t mean I’m relying on false intelligence.”

“Oh. I see.”

“And sir – forgive me for being impertinent – but aren’t Ramsbottom and Fitch those guys who the leading expert on covert surveillance said (and I’m quoting from memory here), “… couldn’t find an enemy if one leapt up and hit them on the head?”

“He’s biased.”

“Ah. OK.”

“Look son, it’s not just Ramsbottom and Fitch. You don’t think I’m so stupid I’d risk my soldiers’ lives based on just one source of intelligence, do you?”

“Well, um … sir, I was hoping you wouldn’t!”

“Well, rest assured, son. I know what I’m doing.  Look!  I have this army manual written in the 2nd century BC  which says that the enemy always attacks from the south or the west, never from the north or the east – and it’s never wrong! Military strategy never changes, son. It’s timeless. You can’t argue with this book, let me tell you!”

“Yes, sir, but times have changed. People have changed. Our ideas about war have changed. And we have much better information about military strategy now than they had nearly 3,000 years ago!”

“Son, this book served my grandfather and my father and it has served me all my life. I’m not interested in any of that new-fangled crapola! This book is army tradition and I’ll rely on it until the day I die.”

“So, sir, let me get this straight.  All the information we have from the world’s leading sources of intelligence are wrong. All these experts, whose techniques are considered rigorous and whose opinions are considered highly credible by the vast majority of the military, are, in your opinion, just plain wrong. And you’re placing your faith in two completely discredited informants and a 3000 year old book.”

“Yep, that just about sums it up.”

“Because, all sources of modern, mainstream military information are biased?”

“Obviously! Except the ones that agree with me, of course. They’re all right.”

“So, it’s a conspiracy.”

“Transparently.”

“And, sir – forgive me, I’m having a little trouble working this out. You say you’re right, because there are bits of their intelligence which, taken out of context, seem to support what you’re saying (until you actually read the full reports) and because YOUR experts, Ramsbottom and Fitch who are considered completely clueless by most recognized experts hold a different view.”

“There you go, soldier! It’s a pretty simple concept, really, isn’t it? Good man!”

“But, sir … if you’re wrong, and the enemy is actually approaching from the north and not from the south, there’s going to be a massacre here when the enemy turns up! You’ve deployed everyone to defend the southern boundary! Think of all the needless suffering your stubborn refusal to accept mainstream intelligence might cause …”

“Poppycock. I can’t possibly be wrong. It’s inconceivable.  Look … see in this manual, chapter 32, paragraph 12 – it says I’m right!”

“Sir, I know I’m risking a charge of insubordination here, but I’ve actually read that paragraph and I don’t think it means what you think it means. In fact, I’ve read a lot of opinions from people who also think that’s a pretty good book who think you may have interpreted it wrong.”

“Ridiculous! I’ll let you into a secret, son. A ghost of a 2000 year old soldier whispers in my ear and tells me how to interpret that book. He’s always right, which means I’m always right.”

“So, you’re not even prepared to consider how much damage might be caused if you ignore all the experts?”

“No. What is important is that he’s right and I’m right.”

The conversation is interrupted by a terrible din as the enemy arrives from the north and begins killing indiscriminately.

“Sir! Sir! The enemy is here!  They’ve come in from the north and they’re killing everyone! We have no protection! You sent all our defences south!”

The commander, speaking from beneath his desk, replies, “Yes, yes, I know! We’re losing comprehensively, son, but what matters is that I was right – the enemy attacked from the south! I knew it all along. I was right!”

Hitchens, it seems was right. Religion poisons everything.

You know what? I take back the title of this blog post. Wallace’s ignorance is not ‘safe’ confined within the Australian Christian Lobby.  Here are just some of the casualties of the kind of unreasoned prejudice displayed by Wallace and the ACL in respect of homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Make no mistake, this is a war and people are suffering and dying.

Chrys Stevenson

13 thoughts on “In which I ‘dream’ about whether it might be safer for Wallace to head the ACL than the SAS ….

  1. tamlyn123

    ROFLMAO! But with a slightly bitter edge to the mirth: that’s just too close to the truth to really enjoy the laugh.
    *And* it applies to the arguments against abortion and contraception so vehemently pushed by various followers of that damn book.

    Reply
      1. doug Steley

        Thankfully the RAAF had very little of that kind of behaviour, they much preferred to find the quickest easiest most effective and least arduous solution to any problem.

        Doing that meant we could be home for dinner and enjoy a few horus drinking while others slogged in the mud🙂

  2. Duke

    Bravo. Perfect transposition of the mindset and its epistemic illiteracy on to the battlefield. Now what about these doctors for Jesus and how their practice of medicine might look if they adopted the same faith based approach!

    Reply
  3. alpharia

    Why am I suddenly reminded of nearly the whole script of Monty Python’s The Holy Grail?😉

    Reply
  4. rigbyte

    Delightful. Reminds me of the disastrous Charge of the Light Brigade in the Crimean War. It was a situation like your clever bit of invention, as was the ANZAC landing at Gallipoli. Everyone told them it would be a massacre, but they went ahead anyway because the generals, being appointed because they were aristocrats and therefore better at giving orders and never wrong, decided to follow their own ideas instead of the intelligence. Wars are full of these sorts of bungles, we just turn them into glorious acts of heroism, give out medals and everyone feels proud .

    Reply
  5. palmboy

    I was very moved by this posting Chrys. Initially I was laughing, then when I got to the last paragraph the reality of the harm these so-called “Christians” do is brought home with a major thud. Sadly these crazy nutters are giving you lots of ammunition to work with.

    My heartfelt thanks for your tireless endeavours to show up these nasty ignorant people for what they really are. Thank you for your great work.

    Reply
  6. Louella

    Awesome. Running out of superlatives. You’ve been a busy bear lately.
    I *do* hope Brigadier Wallace reads this.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s