Re: virus: Protecting non-combatants - Respecting conventions.

From: Hermit (
Date: Sun Aug 11 2002 - 15:56:35 MDT

[Hermit 1] Jonathan, you make the same error as Joe Dees.

[Hermit 1] As previously noted, when mainstream press suppresses stories, it is time to look elsewhere for your news. In such circumstances, a source is not relevant to a story except in so far as goes to establishing likely veracity and slant. The more off-stream, the more careful one has to be. Having found a story which was not present in the US news, I cross validated it, and while I did not originally locate it at the Ithaca Journal (a respectable small town paper), I did discover 4 more versions of the story which used the same quotation. A dead give away for a wire story. In other words, somebody saw the story in the Ithaca Journal, recognized the significance of it and wired a report on it. Notice that there was no effective difference in facts between the Pravda story and the Ithaca Journal story. So in fact Pravda had very little to do with this - you could have established this for yourself - and your attacks were completely misplaced.

[Joe Dees 2] Except for the fact, that if they run across a story that slage the US, they will print it; kinda like your posts, Hermit.

[Hermit 3] You flatter yourself Joe. The rest of the world is not obsessed by the US. Worried by, frightened by, concerned about - all with good reason. European papers are not worried about political correctness or challenging their readers preconceptions to the same extent as US papers, and of course, have no concern with printing validated articles about the US. So these days it is easier to find out what is happening in the US by reading a blend of European papers than by following US papers.

[Hermit 1] No matter what your opinion of Pravda, trying to discredit a story simply on the grounds that it was printed by it is invalid. Impugning sources unless they are notorious for distortion (and these days Pravda is not) doesn't do anything except make you look silly. Rather, if you want to "debunk" a story, you have to show the story is either untrue (it wasn't) or biased (it wasn't). As is shown by the original Ithaca Journal report, the words are quoted and it is not possible to draw any inference about the unequivocal statement, "We were told specifically that if there were women and children to kill them" except that the US contravened Clause 4 of the Geneva convention.

[Joe Dees 2] Or that the speaker was not speaking carefully, and thus spoke incorrectly.

[Hermit 3] Ok Joe. Your assertion. Substantiate it. Not with hypothesis, with logic. Show us what Private Guckenheimer could have been trying to say when he said, "We were told specifically that if there were women and children to kill them" and how this could be taken to mean something other than what it said. Or are you mistaken? Did you mean to say, "Or that the speaker was not speaking carefully, and thus spoke the truth"?

[Hermit 1] Private Matt Guckenheimer believed he was intended to kill women and children when he made that statement - and in the follow on letter, did not attempt to explain why his impression was mistaken, instead he attempted to simply repudiate his previous statement (and perhaps worth noting that his attempted repudiation had not been printed when it was taken up by news sources throughout Europe).

[Joe Dees 2] Of course not. Whadday expect out of the European news? This reminds me of the terse little poem on the Andrew Sullivan Website:


[Hermit 3] "The British Journalist" is by Humbert Wolfe, not Andrew Sullivan. And what this has to do with the facts I do not know. An American soldier says to an American journalist (yes the Ithaca Journal is American Joe) that "We were told specifically that if there were women and children to kill them." That is news. Did you expect European journalists to suppress it the way the US press did, in order to spare your sensitive barbarian feelings? It really does not work that way.

[Hermit 1] In my opinion, his attempted repudiation was highly unconvincing in comparison to the original. Firstly because the original didn't leave any wriggle room. "We were told specifically that if there were women and children to kill them" can only be understood one way. The fact that it was highlighted makes it very clear what the intent was. His putative retraction was, in contrast a maze of qualifiers, which lead me to conclude that somebody else said to him "Private, you just put yourself, me and our commanders in line for a war crime tribunal. Is that really what you wanted to do?"

[Joe Dees 2] Or it was occasioned by the OMIGOD! reaction to seeing such a horrendous misstatement correctly attributed to him and appearing widely in the media.

[Hermit 3] ESP too now? Or has your reasoning gone down the tubes or are you mistaken or are you lying again? Not even Private Matt Guckenheimer attempted to claim that this was a misstatement. According to Ithaca Journal he said it (and I bet they have tapes of it). And then tried to pretend he didn't (and we all saw that).

[Hermit 1] My opinion is supported by the internal evidence that the two items, the interview and the retraction, were almost certainly written by two different people. The original scored 4.8 on the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level, while the putative retraction scored 8.4 on the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level. A massive 4 years difference in apparent education. The overwhelming probability is that the second was dictated by somebody else. The fact that it is largely in the passive voice makes this probability stronger. Finally, as previously noted, the original version is supported by the external demographic evidence that the US is not being particularly careful about casualties.

[Joe Dees 2] What is infinitely more likely is that he stepped on his verbal dick the first time, so was very careful in his clarification, perhaps going so far as to compose it in advance, which clearly was not the case with the original remark.

[Hermit 3] Then why didn't he say, "I lied" or "I was on drugs." Because the first formulation was not complex enough to carry a bunch of qualifications and too specific to have been a simple difference between what he meant and what he said. Indeed, as I observed before, he essentially contradicts entirely. The other question is how he managed to obtain 4 years worth of education in between the two occassions? At the lower end of the curve, any statements tend to reflect the abilities of the speaker and yield very repeatable scores.

[Hermit 1] So I'd suggest you approached debunking it the wrong way. If you didn't like his original statement, you had only two valid options. To assert he was lying the first time (in which case you need to explain why you believe his retraction), or to assert that he was telling what he thought was the truth the first time but was mistaken. Pravda simply repeated the story.

[Joe Dees 2] He made a brainless misstatement and, when it became mediabound and came back to him, hastened to correct it.

[Hermit 3] I'm still waiting for Joe Dees to explain how you can "brainlessly misstate" something as simple and specific as "We were told specifically that if there were women and children to kill them."

[Joe Dees 2] End of story. But of course, Hermit Scatflinger will see a deep dark military/media conspiracy there, and probably in every listing in the local telephone book, and and indulge in his best pseudoanalytically fulminating imitation of Deep Esophagus in order to plumb, with a pen rather than a sword, how deep his self-deception goes (hint: it is driven by gut feelings of bias, bigotry and bile).

[Hermit 3] And how does this little flight of Joes' support his case?

[Hermit 1] Of course, your and Joe's reactions - it is Pravda, it is anti-American - it is a lie, is understandable, is comprehensible. As is your immediate acceptance of the putative retraction at face level. It matches your preconceptions. Trouble is, as the internal and external evidence, and Rhinoceros' excellent letter all show, your preconceptions appear to be faulty.

[Joe Dees 2] Hermit, you remind me of a Man in Black, checking the tablod 'hot sheets' for news of aliens.

[Hermit 3] Why are you discussing your hallucinations with me? I suggest you ask your Doctors to increase your Lithium dosage, it might improve matters.

This message was posted by Hermit to the Virus 2002 board on Church of Virus BBS.

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