Friday, August 23, 2013
The Squirrelly Case of Bradley Manning
A few weeks ago, I heard that the core of his defense...by a military lawyer...was gender dysphoria. I thought, huh? The whole Wikileaks thing is about gender dysphoria? Manning wanted to be a Womanning, that messed him up, and so as a wreck of a human being, torn and shattered by this fundamental existential crisis, he made some terrible decisions.
True though that may be, this reads strangely.
I know as a good liberal I should now be deeply concerned about how this surfaces issues of justice and solidarity for my LGBTQ sisters and brothers and..um...brother-sisters. That's where all the broader media chatter is now. Coverage in the leftist Huffington Post today, for instance, focuses on how "Chelsea" Manning's case highlights problems facing transgender Americans in the military.
Over on the right, FoxNews is today covering the outcome of the case in their health section. Yes, the health section. How does gender reassignment work, plumbing wise? They report, as we decide.
But this "coverage" echoes oddly across my consciousness, because it feels like a convenient distraction, a dangled bit of shiny scandalous chatter-fodder. "Squirrel!" cries the media, and we go chasing off after it, all else forgotten.
Manning's sexuality has become the conversation. What is not discussed, not a tiny bit, not a jot, not a tittle, is the substance of what he did, the reason he's doing prison time. The charges against him, to be blunt, didn't have a damn thing to do with gender dysphoria.
They were about releasing documents that showed the depth of the human toll of our actions in Iraq. That included the overall projected death toll, covering up the killing of civilians and surrendering combatants, massacres by American forces, and our acquiescence to the systematic torture and summary executions conducted by our Iraqi "allies."
Those leaks showed a pattern of behavior and action unbefitting the integrity of a republic. We are imprisoning him to punish him for making that information available.
But that is forgotten. Instead, the Manning conviction "narrative" becomes about sexuality. Until we forget about that entirely too, which will be soon. I give it two or three more days.
There was a time, back in the Soviet Era, when the official media of that benighted state would mask the truth by fabricating salacious and slanderous narratives about dissidents. In the swirling madness of the 24 hour news and social media chatter cycle, that no longer becomes necessary to mask injustices.
Just find the sex angle, and let the "free" media go at it.