A Psychology Professor at Santa Clara University has repeated the Milgram Experiment of the sixties. Remember that?
That was where the subject was told to push a button that would shock a person for every wrong answer they gave to a test.
Of course they were.
In my opinion, and the good professor said this too, the difference between the seven and the three was accountability.
If you're being told to do something, you can defer the responsibility. You're not the bad guy.
It was a test. The scientist told me to do it. The University told me to do it. It's a study. It must be okay. I'm just a guy pushing the buttons. Surely the people running the test know better than I do.
Only three out of ten will say, "No. I'm ultimately accountable for what I do and fuck you but no."
The study ended just before the electricity reached lethal levels because the administrators just didn't want to know what percent of the population at large was willing to kill somebody just because they were told to.
Start with an unfamiliar and surreal situation, like war and throw in amoral, sociopathic leadership.
Then the bad behavior increases in small increments. Before you know it, you have a generation of monsters.
This sheds very sad light on situations like Abu Grahaib, what continues to happen at Guantanamo Bay, and the actions of the seven sexual predators with badges and guns working for Sheriff Tim Swanson of Stark County, Ohio.
This explains how police officers can act like sociopaths and then go home, play with their kids and sleep like babies at night.
When the atrocities you commit are 'on the clock,' there is disassociation. You're not the one doing it. It's your job and you're just a tool.
Just like the people in the study pushing the button. It's just how the test is run. Surely they wouldn't have you shocking people while they screamed and sobbed for help if they didn't know that it was all okay.
That is what religion, our education system and our government have drilled into us. There are rules that we follow even if it means ignoring our conscience.
And don't forget human nature. We have to come to terms with the fact that each of us, every single puppy-loving, 'i'-dotting-with-a-heart, cutie pie, 'Hello Kittie' backpack wearing, outwardly innocent, quilted flowered Bible cover toting one of us has a sadistic streak. Without exception.
But those who blame the situation or their circumstances, making it easy to defer that responsibility, can and do commit abuses. Orders or no, we do what we do. And we are responsible.
And if anyone cares, I'm listening to: