Pasupatidasi's Blog

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at what cost? the strategy of bradley manning’s defense

there can be no doubt, at least in my mind, that bradley manning is a hero. his conscience led him to make certain things public, including a damning video of US soldiers shooting and killing iraqi civilians from a helicopter. then came wikileaks and the throngs of cables, none of which were top secret, but all of which were revelations of the way in which business is done, behind the scenes.

his treatment at the hands of a government, angry at being “pantsed” has been nothing short of horrific and aptly defined as torture. he has been held in solitary confinement, often naked and without even a blanket, for nearly 24 hours of every day for well over a year. he has been denied visits, unless the matter has been pursued with viligance, and amnesty international was denied their request to visit him in detention.

that his actions did NOT harm a single troop on the ground or elsewhere and the fact that the cables were NOT released as part of a conspiracy with wikileaks or any other entity, seems little to matter to those who would lock him up and throw away the key. all this despite the present administration’s assurances of transparency, protection for whistle-blowers and repeal of bush era violations of constitutionally guaranteed rights.

so, one cannot help but feel that WHATEVER strategy could lift him out of his present circumstance is justified. but is it?

the strategy being used by manning’s defense is to paint him as a victim. NOT of a secretive government’s desire to shut up opposition, NOT of a conscience that wouldn’t allow him to look the other way when he came across clear abuses and under-handed duplicity. NO! the defense claims that stress created by the pressures of being a gay man in the service under DADT, along with the gender identity issues he has caused him to be leaky!

i think we all know where this can lead. the insinuation is clear. gay and transgender people in the military service aren’t to be trusted. being gay or transgender is a threat to national security. being gay or transgender is a pathology.

this, coming on the heels of the just recently repealed DADT bill, and the years of effort in advocacy on the part of transgender people to have gender identity diversity removed from the list of mental diseases in the DSMV, is clearly NOT a good thing!

tho, i truly hope that justice can be gotten for bradley manning, who is, when all is taken into account, a great american hero and patriot for his actions in trying to reveal the ways in which this country, the country that he defended, has gone astray, it seems unlikely that THIS defense will do anybody any good.

those who have opposed repealing DADT will have ammunition behind their bigotry, those who seek to see transgender people as weak-minded or sick will have all the affirmation they could hope for in the defense strategy being put forth, and likely it wont save bradley manning either.

so at what cost? this defense strategy.

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we are all bradley manning

the story i posted earlier today about bradley manning
his alleged transgender status
and how that may have figured into the ‘special’ treatment
he suffered had me outraged on so many levels.

first there was the outing of him by other than himself. a dangerous and irresponsible thing to do.

second, the intimation that being transgender had something
to do with his crises of conscience that led to his leaking
of materials to wikileaks.

third was the (i think likely) notion that he was
specifically entreated to ‘naked’ torture as means to
further denigrate him as a person, since, if bradley manning
is indeed transgender, his naked body on display as a taunt,
is infinitely more cruel.

where to begin?

being the mother of a transgender child, and friend to grown
women who also started life under the pronouncement “it’s a
boy” when the facts were otherwise, this story touched me
most personally.

a person’s gender identity is their own to declare. no one
has the right to ‘out’ another person to a society which by
and large judges, deprives of basic rights or outright
attacks transgender folk. it is wrong to foist that sort of
danger upon another person.

the fact that his alleged gender identity issues were
‘leaked’ by someone other than himself to the media, altho
ironic given his status as a source of leaks, is none the
less an abombinable infringement upon his right to privacy.
his ‘secret’ didn’t seek to cover corrupt dealings of state
from which the whole of society might suffer consequence.
his privacy being in tact affected no one but himself.

then there was the intimation of his alleged gender issues
being the root of his crises of conscience. this implies
that he, being less of a ‘man’, simply couldn’t handle the
hard realities of war. the fact that women didn’t seem to
have such tender sensibilities, some of whom posed with
tortured men in abu ghraib prison, suggests that it wasn’t
his alleged ‘female’ identification, but rather a pathology
of disease from which he suffered, that led him to pull back
the curtain and reveal the true Oz.

pardon me! but if any human of ethics and morals sees
wrongdoing and looks the other way, this doesn’t make them
sane! altho in these times it might well be the norm.

finally, there’s the fact of his punishment before even
being tried, much less sentenced for a crime. isolation from
everyone but his tormentors for 23 of 24 hours of the day.
for many months! no guilty verdict, nor presenting of
evidence either against or for him. just punitive remand
into torturous custody. where it was suggested in the
article, his gender issues may have been known and used as a
means to further torment him.

my daughter is transgender.
she won’t take a bath without the tub full of bubbles.
she doesn’t like to think of the ‘boy parts’, much less have
to see them. when she first realised that she wouldn’t
simply outgrow them, she attempted to rid her body of them,
(thankfully i don’t keep sharp things in the reach of
children.)

it would be the worst kind of torture to her to be made to
stand naked before others. i can’t begin to imagine how hard
it would be if in addition to this she were being taunted,
derided and held against her will.

if bradley manning is questioning his gender, if he is gay
or even if he is a cis straight male, he has the right to be
tried for his alleged crimes, AND he has the right to be
treated with dignity even if found guilty of them.

the outrageous treatment he has suffered, whether
guilty or innocent, gay or straight, genderqueer or otherwise, is WRONG! and all the more so if done intentionally because of special knowledge about his inner circumstances.

and lest one think that his circumstance is only his, don’t imagine for a single moment that the same society that can do this to such a gentle soul as he wont do them to someone else.

i say to you, it happens once, the precedent is set …it will, if not stopped, happen again! maybe to you.

i say to you, we are all bradley manning!