FreeThought Fort Wayne

        Be Reasonable

Posts Tagged ‘documentary’

Soldiers of Conscience

Posted by dystressed on October 19, 2008

[Author’s note: I debated this topic quite a bit with myself before writing this. I want to remind readers that this post reflects my personal beliefs, not necessarily those of anyone else associated with FreeThought Fort Wayne.]

Please understand that first of all, I support the troops who are serving now and in the past. I don’t agree with the principle of preemptive war, but I was convinced along with the rest of America of the need for it in Iraq. With the revelations about Iraq having no WMDs or a link to Al Queda, and the new politics of the current election, I have been trying to examine some of the aspects of this war and the military overall.

POV on PBS is a documentary film series. This week’s film entitled “Soldiers of Conscience” is all about the factors of why and how people rationalize killing in war. You can watch the video online here until October 23. The filmmakers focus on 4 concientious objectors (COs), one of whom was denied status and court martialed for dessertion.

In making the film the directors started with the thesis that during World War II, only 25 percent of soldiers in combat could fire their weapons at the enemy. This was actually a study commissioned by the military, which launched what a West Point professor calls “reflexive” weapons training. In this practice, soldiers are programmed to kill as a matter of instinct. Fast forward a few years and this new training brings the level of soldiers willing to fire a weapon and kill to around 90 percent in the days of the Vietnam War.

As a freethinker, I am non-religious, but I am also firm in my conviction that killing people is wrong. I am also skeptical of this military program that teaches soldiers to kill as a reflex, an instinct. If we have to teach people to kill, even to save their own lives, should we really be fighting in the first place? I understand the reasons for fighting, and I am eternally grateful for the chance to breathe free, but the methods of our military training seem suspect.

Advertisements

Posted in FreeThought, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Religulous: mean-spirited or a champion of truth?

Posted by Andy Welfle on September 30, 2008

I just heard Bill Maher interviewed on Fresh Air on NPR today. He, along with director Larry Charles, talked about Religulous, the controversial documentary lampooning religionists and their beliefs. (Check out the trailer here.)

What I want to know is, as a social group trying to be good community members while communicating our message, does this documentary help or hinder our cause?

Personally, I think Bill Maher is an ass. Having occasionally watched Politically Incorrect, I never cared for his permanent sneering face and pseudo-intellectual speech. He’s a smart guy, yes, but he has a holier-than-thou attitude (ironic!) which just rubs me the wrong way.

I’m glad that he has taken on the mission to expose religion as the ultimate “hustle” as the website’s language puts it, but does he really need to do it by directly ridiculing people and their beliefs?

I realize that many freethinkers would answer “yes” to this question. But doesn’t this just add fuel to Christians’ fire? They would have an easier time dismissing the atheist cause by just pointing out that this film is pointing fingers and laughing, a la six-year-old humor.

Now, granted, I haven’t seen this movie yet. There may be some intelligent debate, and some discourse with the theist community. But I think it is safe to say that the majority of the film kinda does a Jay Leno-style “man on the street” interview, where they get people to say ridiculous things. At least that’s what the trailer says about the film, and what Terry Gross talked about.

I think the best way to further our cause is to have an open, friendly, line of communication with the theist community. Let them initiate debate, and then methodically counter their arguments, point by point. That’s how my deconversion happened (Well, that, and a natural distrust of what I was being taught).

Nevertheless, I do plan to see the film, and would like to know what others might thing about this. Please feel free to use the comments of this post as a forum.

Posted in FreeThought | Tagged: , , , | 15 Comments »