On the weekend of February 8th, a vandal decided to break several toilets in First Battalion. If upon hearing this one was to assume, they were just kicked over, they would be forgiven, but the johns appeared to be ripped straight off the ground, almost as if they simply removed the bolts. What compounds the strangeness of this case is that it was done twice. What would normally be considered a drunken incident at any other institution after a fraternity rager was made into a contentious spectacle regarding how the administration and command responded.
At the Monday morning formation following the incident, Battalion Commander Bobby Hudson called a fall out informing the entire battalion of the heinous deed and urged whoever was responsible to come forward before outside police got involved, and of course, informed of the group punishment that would follow. Apparently, someone saw South Park’s TSA episode and thought it was a how-to instruction manual and not a satire. For two days the battalion had guards on all upperclassmen heads, in full dress greys no less. One must look professional when guarding excrement after all. In addition, leave was predictably restricted and mandatory remedial ethics LTPs were planned to discuss the incident but resulted in the further wasting of cadet time.
Furthermore, Cadet Battalion Commander Hudson, with the best of intentions in trying to vindicate the battalion despite supposedly no one knowing anything about the criminal, had people sign papers saying they had no knowledge of what happened that night. This left the potty perpetrator with two options. The first they could come forward and risk getting kicked out for either vandalism or an honor violation by lying on that sheet of paper. The second and preferable alternative to the vandal would be to stay quiet, suffer the group punishments with everyone else, hope that no one would ever find out, and have the possibility of staying at the school. There are numerous ethical issues on with these group punishments alongside these various inconveniences and frustrations.
Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, regarding civilians, states that among other things, “No protected person may be punished for an offense he or she has not personally committed.” Furthermore, Article 87 of the Third Geneva Convention which protects prisoners of war (P.O.W) say that “Collective punishment for individual acts … are forbidden.” If it is unethical to use group punishment on P.O.Ws and the civilian populace during wartime, why is it acceptable to use it on students in a pseudo-military environment? If Cesare Beccaria realized that punishing an individual to get a confession was unethical in 1762 why is it acceptable to do it some 250 years later? Have we not grown and matured as a society since those barbaric days? Are we so quick to forget the ill deeds of the past that we forget the lessons we learned as well?
In short, the Privy Pillager is just another highlight of the hypocrisy of an administration that does not want the action of a few students or bad faculty members to reflect on the school as a whole, but is willing to punish the whole for the action of the few, or in the case of the porcelain pot punisher, the one.