Soldiers v. Prisoners
One of the new season Real Worlders on the MTV show The Real World is a former Iraq War veteran. The twist is: She is a girl! The Real World - I must admit - is one of my guilty pleasures. It always has a group of seven people who share two characteristics, which are that they're beautiful (or at the very least, cute) and they are extremely narcissistic. You'd have to figure that. Here's a group who each think that the whole world is going to want to watch them every second of the day. Usually there are a couple of cute girls who don't have much upstairs, and there is nothing funner than watching cute, dumb girls trying to figure things out.
Anyways, the black guy got into a debate with the Iraq War Vet chick. The debate was the difficulty of prison versus the difficulty of the Army. He took the pro-prison side and she, of course, took the pro-soldier side while I was just fuming that she would accept the premise that there is, or should be, any equivalency between the two. Let me explain what's wrong with the discussion: To join the military you agree to honorably serve your country and give your life, if necessary, to your fellow citizens. To join prison, you have to break our country's rules about how you should live with your fellow citizens. See the difference?
I know. I hear it all the time: 'Why do we send men to prison? We should just send them into the military.' In fact, it was very common back in the day to give young lawbreaking men the choice of prison or the service. When I went to Boot Camp I flew down with a guy who had been given that choice. He was a young, small, pretty guy so his decision was a no-brainer.
Confusing things even further is the fact that we now have boot camp prisons. The theory is that the same methods that are used to change decent, wholesome young men into killers can also change killers - okay, not killers, criminals - into decent wholesome young men. Actually, I hear it works pretty well, but I'm not sure how well it works once they aren't in the extremely controlled and coercive environment of the Boot Camp. It's pretty easy to get people to follow the rules when you have somebody yelling at them twenty four hours a day. Probably it's a different matter when it's only their conscience yelling at them.
About the Author: Steve Sommers new book, Evil Super-Villains Need Love, Too ... and other important wisdom, is available at http://www.lulu.com/content/317958.
His novel, REXROI, is available at http://www.lulu.com/content/306670