Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Quiz: Plot E”

The quiz about the American military cemetery of shame in France provoked many varying opinions, none more eloquently expressed than this Comment of the Day by JutGory.

I only post quizzes when I am at least somewhat unsure of the ethics call. My position in the post was in response to the blogger’s argument in favor of giving the graves headstones, which I felt was unpersuasive. I’m not sure Jut has changed my mind, but his points are much, much better.

Here is JutGory’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Ethics Quiz: Plot E”:

Simple Golden Rule. The grave marker is for the survivors as much as (more so) for the deceased. The nature of the injury is apparent in its very act. The Government left them unmarked in order to cause injury. That is the flip-side of saying he has suffered enough; the Government provides ongoing punishment. It has been used for millenia. But who is injured by that? The survivors. (Caveat: where the grave will become a place to stoke violence or be a target of violence, an anonymous burial (like OBL’s burial at sea) might be warranted.

This is a lesson as old as the encounter between Achilles and Priam. Priam went to Achilles to beg for the body of his son, Hector. He asked Achilles to remember his father, Pileus, who hoped one day to see Achilles again. Achilles knows that he never will. He takes pity on Priam and releases Hector’s body to him for proper burial. That is what Achilles would want for himself and his father. Yet, thousand of years later, that lesson still has not stuck.

If I were kind, I would mark every grave, along with the reason for their execution. I would advertise why it is a separate plot. Separate from those who fought and died honorably. But, every one of those individuals served their country, my country. Bad apples though they were, I have tacit respect for those professions whose members put themselves at risk for the safety of other (police, fire and military). Some of these people may not have even volunteered. Regardless, they served their country; they should be acknowledged even if it is with ultimate dishonor.

4 thoughts on “Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Quiz: Plot E”

  1. Great comment Jut. I find it much more persuasive than the original and to be honest it has changed my mind. While there is no right to a marked grave it does strike me as a nice symbolic act of taking the higher road and an ethical and practical act of retaining information in the world. Unmarked graves, in this instance, have the stink of white washing history even if that’s not the intent. To be fair though, while I now think that it’s not right, in the grand scheme of things, to leave these graves unmarked I’m also not gonna be butthurt about it if they’re left that way.

    • Well, shut down the internet. Someone persuaded someone else to change one’s mind. If this keeps happening, the internet will soon degrade into undesirable harmony.

      Thank you.

      I will just say: the original post, for some reason, brought to mind the meeting between Priam and Achilles. I recently mentioned that Invisible Man by Ellison was a work that stuck with me; the meeting between Priam and Achilles solidified the Iliad as a work cherished in my life. It struck me as a young man, and it has lost no significance as a father.

      And it is the perfect example of the way preserving our knowledge of the culture provides us with the lessons we need for today.

      I would encourage anyone: if you have not read the Iliad lately, read that chapter; it is a touching bit of humanity.


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