Forsake the TroopsbySean Renaud©
Freedom of speech is a thing that many of us take for granted each and everyday. Most of us will never truly appreciate what that means because we were born with it. There is no way that we can do more than pay lip service to the great freedom we enjoy here in the United States other than to use it. Use it to speak out for religion, against Bush, for abortion and against gay marriage. Use it to write legislation that may one day become law and use it to write stories that may someday become classics school children are required to read. Use it to direct movies that change lives and open eyes and use it to direct pornography downloaded from the net. Use it to design video games filled with bloody disturbing images and use it educate people. Use it every single chance you get because that is the only way you can truly appreciate it. When I started this essay I had a vague idea that I would take a piece of disturbing literature and tell you all how art should disturb people and evoke powerful emotions. Instead I stumbled over a website that evoked those exact emotions I was hoping to capture in my audience and I knew what I had to present and what I had to do.
I will start however by speaking about the United States Military. It is a completely volunteer service today. Vietnam and the draft are things of the past and will likely remain things of the past for a long time. Any man or woman who is currently in Iraq, Afghanistan and any of the other places that forces are deployed chose to be there. Anything that happens to them is in part their own faults because they could just as easily have started working at McDonalds. They did choose be shot at, chose to be bombed, chose to be taken prisoner and chose to die. It is disgusting when somebody uses the word sacrifice in the same breath as military service. There is a website dedicated to that exact belief.
The man's website is dedicated to the destruction of the United States Military. He repeatedly insults the individuals who have chosen this profession suggesting that they have below average intelligence and abilities. He notes how much money the average man in the military is able to pull in during their first years in the military and also their last years. His major motivation behind his site is that the United States Military is a waste of tax dollars and perform nothing of merit. His name is Michael Crook.
Michael Crook is the founder of Forsake The Troops Foundation and he has received death threats for his opinions about how the country is being run. Many times he has responded by insulting the intelligence of those people supporting the military and insulting him. I've read many of the entries into his guest book and much of the posted mail to his site and he is right. An overwhelming majority of the responses people have given him are juvenile. Many people have quoted how wonderful the military is and how thousands die everyday so that he can maintain his right to say what he pleases. Others have told him that he is sub-human for what he said, that he is a traitor to the United States. That is simply not the case, he is using his freedom of speech.
It is true that the vast majority of his opinions are ignorant, so ignorant in fact that he has received multiple e-mails asking if his site is some sort of joke. There aren't very many people in the world who laugh at death the way that he does. (His website has a counter displaying the number of dead United States soldiers stating that the scumbags got what they deserved. He also has pictures of dead or wounded military personnel with humorous quotes attached.) He would make his point better with a thought out less abrasive report on how our tax dollars could be better spent.
He could easily have said what many Americans already believe, that there is no reason why we are in Iraq. That we gained nothing from attacking Saddam or freeing his formerly oppressed peoples. The point could be made that many of the countries that we are in don't want us or appreciate our presence. A case could easily be made for the fact that the United States is the bully of the world enforcing its policies with threats of violence and violence. Insulting Bush is just shy of a national pastime right now and he only lightly touches on the subject. He didn't even bother to mention that the last time the United States military has fought in a war to protect America was World War II. Overall his site is a horrible failure at getting any sort of constructive solid point across aside from his ignorance.
There is only one thing he's accomplishing with his belligerent words; pissing a lot of people off. One of the risks of free speech is pissing a lot of people off and getting threatened for what you think and believe. It is people like him who we have to protect. It is people who use their First Amendment rights who need the most protection and will someday need people to fight and die for them. Michael Crook isn't a terrorist, he isn't a traitor to his country. He's just an idiot barely worthy of noting if not for the emotional response his words create. As a member of the United States Marine Corps I am sworn to defend the Constitution which applies to the greatest thinkers and the greatest retards alike.
I for one defend to the death his right to speak his mind. Not because I agree with what he says, because I agree with his right to say it. If we censor him for hating the military where do we draw the line? Do we censor the every writer, singer, actor and poet who are against the war effort? What about the people who don't support President Bush? I know there are people who don't find those ideas frightening. Those are the kind of ideas that lead to more oppressive forms of censorship. What is to stop a president that nobody speaks out against from banning porn or all movies above a G rating? There is no way to stop it once it gets started because it sets precedence. Freedom of speech has to be everything or nothing, there can be no compromise. Just look at the separation of church and state if you believe compromises can be made.
In closing I have to say something about the United States Armed forces. We all chose our jobs, we knew what we were getting into. We knew the risks and we knew that not everybody we fought for would appreciate us for it. We knew that there were bleeding hearts in the world who would cry over every person who died. We all knew that it could be us one day being put in the ground having paid with blood for our beliefs. We are here for many reasons and do many things but there is one thing that nobody in the military has ever done and that is sacrifice. The definition of sacrifice is to sell at a loss. If you believe that a man who dies protecting his wife has given his life for something worth less than his life you are wrong, at least in his opinion. It is true that soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen die but it is not for a loss. They died for something greater than themselves and to call it a sacrifice cheapens it. It brings it down to the level of slaughtering animals to non-existent gods. If I die in combat I don't want anybody speaking of how I paid a sacrifice. I want them to talk about how I paid a price and to finish whatever job I started. As they say Freedom isn't free. It's paid in blood, but it is a payment for something precious and many of us are willing to pay it. It is not a sacrifice and I get sick to my stomach whenever I hear about how one of my fellow servicemen has paid a sacrifice.