Monday, February 11, 2013


I hadn't known any murderers in my life. 

I'm pretty sure that I met LT Dorner a long time ago back when he was a member of Squadron 34. I met most of them as they went through their workup after mobilization before heading overseas to Kuwait. I was initially thrown by reports that he was with a riverine unit in Bahrain but other reports indicated that he was in MIUWU 105 and I knew almost all of them at and around that time. In 2006 what we had in Bahrain was Mobile Security Detachment Bahrain and it worked for Mobile Security Squadron Three under Navy Coastal Warfare Group One and I'd forgotten that they played host to our reserve Embarked Security Detachments that were created out of and manned with a lot of the Mobile Inshore Undersea Warfare personnel immediately after Operation Enduring Freedom began. The ESD deployed to the Persian Gulf and elsewhere to provide embarked security teams for ships of the Military Sealift Command in the Mediterranean and Central Command areas.

The events since the murders at Newtown have concerned me because some forces are trying to use that violence in an effort to shape a confrontation best avoided and one that is completely unnecessary. Words like 'confiscation, seizure and ban' enacted into law by vote or executive fiat is asking for violence.

People who see no options are faced with two stark choices; the path Aaron Swartz opted for rather than spend the rest of his life in jail because the federal prosecutor was on a personal jihad or Dorner's way out. The end result is the same. Judges, District Attorneys and the various people who routinely get away with wounding dozens of innocent bystanders are generating incoherent rage. It's not truly incoherent but once all the legal alternatives have been exhausted the option remains for those that believe they have been denied justice. Picking a fight that the other guy can't win doesn't always mean that the stronger party survives to witness victory. We see it every day where death IS the victory.

I think it's safe to say that Dorner is headed for the clearing at the end of the path. According to his lights he was mortally wounded by people he has taken the trouble to name. If they thought that he couldn't hurt them because they are armed and guarded I'm afraid that he is reminding them of what it means to have 'hostages to fortune.' Those police officers made and left a live enemy behind them and didn't care at all. They made a terrible mistake.

The sea is calm to-night.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand;
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.

Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the A gaean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

Dover Beach
Matthew Arnold


Anne Bonney said...

The ironic element is that we may actually know someone who has committed murder, but not know that he or she has done that deed. I'm not normally paranoid, but don't you sometimes wonder about the people who are in line with you at a store, or the bank, or the post office?

Thanks for the poem. It has a lot of beautiful phrasing - and poignancy.

HMS Defiant said...

Thanks. I first read that poem while extremely tired. I was averaging a couple of hours sleep a day for months on end and the imagery in the mind's eye was amazing. Words can transport one to lands and times far away. I lost the book it was in when I left the ship and never knew who wrote it. Years later, while in Chicago, and well before the worldwideweb I asked Mark if he knew the poem and recited the last three lines and of course he said, "of course, it's Matthew Arnold." Smartypants didn't recall the name of the poem though so I spent a bit of time in libraries reading.

You're right though, they are out there everywhere. Sadly, more everyday.