Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Do your duty, boatswain's mate, or you'll take his place

In summation of flogging, Samuel Holbrook in 1857 comments, "I fancy that those editors and legislators who sit in their cozy armchairs, in office or congressional hall, and talk wisely about the necessity of flogging for sailors, need only once to witness the infliction of the punishment they think so needful, and experience with their own breasts the feeling of dark humiliation which falls upon the soul at seeing the manhood being scourged out of a fellow creature, to alter their convictions as to the expediency of flogging."

Answering the critic who would ask why the bluejacket does not protest, he continues. "A 'man-of-war' is not the place for too free an expression of opinion. The regulations of the service do not admit to freedom of speech. They contain such a word as 'mutiny', for which they provide 'death or such other punishment as a court-martial shall provide.' And, as there can be no half-way-talk concerning so brutal a practice as flogging a human being - a creature created in the image of God - the consequence is an ominous silence. 'A still tongue makes a wise head' - nowhere more so than in the service, where it is truly said, 'You are allowed to think what you please, but you must not think aloud.'"

Good advice no matter who hears it. I have two ears and one tongue, I should use them in that proportion.

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