15 October 2014

Where's The Justice?

An old joke says that examples of "oxymorons" include "dietetic candy", "business ethics" and "military intelligence".

To that list I would add "military justice", at least in matters of domestic and sexual violence, and in hate crimes.

Perhaps you think I'm embittered by my experience of having been sexually assaulted during a college ROTC training weekend.  It took me 33 years to talk about it for the first time, as I did last summer.  To be fair, at that time, very few people went public with accounts of sexual violence committed against them in any arena. Still, I think it says something about the culture of the military that I knew, even then, that if I said anything about what had been done to me, I'd probably be in more trouble than the perpetrators.  In fact, I even knew somehow that they'd get off scot-free because they were my superiors.

It is from such experience, and with the knowledge of other incidents of rape and other sexual (and domestic) violence that I lament the US Marines' retaining custody of one of their own, Joseph Scott Pemberton.  He is accused of killing transgender woman Jennifer Laude Sueselbeck in the Phillipines, where he was stationed.  

Filipino activists want him turned over to their criminal justice system.  I can't blame them:  The US occupation of their islands includes countless cases of abuse against ordinary Filipinos and, especially, Filipinas.  And they know that their overlords (i.e., the top of the American military command chain) have a way of covering up crimes and abuses committed by their cronies as well as those who serve them.   And Pemberton, if he's charged, will probably claim "transgender panic" or some such thing (which, by the way, is what Dominick tried to do when I filed for a restraining order against him).

You might say that such is an emotional response to the crime.  All right, I'll stick to pure-and-simple jurisprudence (at least, as I understand it:  I am not a lawyer).  If a civilian, or anyone in a non-combat situation, kills someone in a country other than his own, he would (and should) be tried by the local authorities.  So, why shouldn't Mr. Pemberton, if he is guilty of the crime.  He was in uniform but, to my knowledge, we're not at war with the Phillipines.

I say:  Hand him over!