Go Ahead, Declare Martial Law For All I Care, Part Ii

YOUR TURN

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Last week I claimed I could prove that martial law isn’t what the media thinks it is. I made that claim because I lived under martial law for 30 months while I was stationed on Okinawa.

So here you go. Proof.

Let’s take a simple example. Out on some Pacific islands there’s a very nasty thing called a rock fish. If you see one along the edge of the beach, it looks like a wrinkled old rock, but it’s actually kind’ve jelly-like. It feeds by sitting along the edge of the beach in a foot or two of water. And sometimes, when the tide goes out, you’ll find one right at the water’s edge. If you step on a rock fish it squashes down and long thin spines stick into your foot. Then you die. Very quickly. I have been told that 20 minutes may do the trick. After that, the fish adds insult to injury by eating you, aided by crabs and whatnot.

Fair enough, I guess. We do the same thing to fish, don’t we? Stick them, kill them, eat them. Fair is fair.

Anyway, because of the rock fish, we had just one authorized beach on the island. The Army put out steel nets that closed off the beach. And they swept the sand with special machinery every day. Result, no rockfish. And a spotless beach. It was beautiful. I regularly took Lolly and the kids over there to swim.

They loved it. I loved it. And we didn’t get killed.

That was very convenient.

A few dunces used to sneak off to off-limit beaches, but the Army didn’t make the kind of mistake civilian law enforcement would make. The Army did not, repeat DID NOT, patrol the off-limit beaches, issue tickets, waste time in court, and make a big deal out of violations. They just put the dear departed into tin cans and shipped them home.

They didn’t ship too many of those cans. Even humans learn.

Well, some do anyway.

Now, suppose those rock fish were to migrate to Southern California. How would the California Legislature, and civilian law enforcement, treat the problem? Same law, no doubt. “Don’t swim at %$#@! unauthorized beaches.” And same solution. Beaches which were protected by nets and carefully swept each day.

But the rest? Oh, my God!

Think of the beach police, the lawsuits, the parents going to prison because Dumbson Number II went swimming where he didn’t belong, the fooforah in the papers, the fines, the extra 2 cent tax on everything to pay for the cost of enforcement, the long-winded scientific debates, the television segments quoting the wisdom of UCLA professors, the illegal sale of rockfish-proof sandals, the sandal police, the fines ... it would go on forever.

The military just canned you and shipped you home.

Cheaper, cleaner, and a whole lot simpler.

Simplicity. A magic word if I ever heard one. That’s another thing I like about martial law. The simplicity of deciding who gets punished for what, where, when, and by whom.

In the military your company commander has the authority to “try” minor offenses. Under martial law that means he’s the one who is going to have your speeding ticket show up on his desk.

There are a couple of interesting forces at work when that happens. To begin with, your company commander, more than anyone else, has control over the job you are given — good or bad — your promotions, and a whole lot of other routine matters.

Picture this: You get a speeding ticket. You appear before your commander.

He reads the ticket, looks up from his desk, looks you in the eye, and says, “I hope you like those four stripes on your shoulder.”

What is he saying? “They may be all you ever have,” or “You may not have them for long,” or “Your ass is grass, bubba, and the next time I see one of these tickets I’m a lawn mower.”

How many more speeding tickets are you likely to get?

And what if you’re not just one of the troops, but — say — the company adjutant? Every time a violation of any kind occurs it is recorded at base headquarters. Headquarters does not like violations. Headquarters writes the efficiency report of your company commander. The more violations, the lower his rating. With enough violations, his efficiency rating can drop lower than whale manure, and that’s on the bottom of the ocean.

And consider a note from headquarters pinned to a ticket, one that says, “What’s wrong with you, Fred? Can’t you control your troops? Not even your own %$#@! adjutant?”

The military has an “up-or-out” policy. You either get promoted or you get to be a civilian again. See? Very effective.

On the other hand, suppose some lunkhead of an air policeman issues you a ticket for “lane-straddling” when all you are doing is moving into the right turn lane to turn right and get onto a base where you are supposed to teach a class that evening?

And suppose you are standing before your commander, who knows you well, and telling him what happened. The traffic was stopped during rush hour. Some impatient idiots were using the right turn lane to slip around the stopped traffic. You did the same thing you do once a week every week — got into the lane to make a turn. But the %$#@! sky cop was too %$#@! lazy to drive onto the %$#@! base to see that you really had a course to teach and were making a perfectly legal turn.

Result. Ticket goes back to Headquarters marked NOT GUILTY. A letter goes to headquarters naming the %$#@! lunkhead sky cop that wasn’t doing his job, who gets his butt chewed by HIS commander.

Do I love martial law?

Has a cat got a tail? Or other rearward-located appendage?

And think about this: No courthouses. No lawyers. No sky-high fines. No court clerks. No bailiffs. Basically no overhead at all.

And fundamentally no crime.

And if it ever comes to it, lots and lots of well-trained and well-armed people to enforce the law.

Martial law? Count me in!

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