Obedience In A Few Good Men

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From the Americans in the My Lai massacre to the Nazis during the Holocaust, soldiers have followed orders no matter how immoral. Obedience to authority is necessary for the stability and protection of people. While obedience is necessary in society, it is absolutely essential in the military. The United States military is based on the principle that lives will be lost if soldiers choose which orders to obey or which to ignore. Soldiers must follow orders and independent thinking is seen as a threat to security. Although obedience is required, it comes with great responsibility for those in charge. Obedience to a flawed authority has led to the deaths of many who are innocent. How can one explain this phenomenon of reasonable people sacrificing…show more content…
In A Few Good Men directed by Rob Reiner, two marines are put on trial for a murder that resulted after obeying an immoral “Code Red” order. These two marines sacrificed their self-judgment in order to adhere to the Marine code and obey authority, which ultimately subverted their human individuality in blind obedience. Film summary: Dawson and Downey exhibit extreme obedience as Marines because it has become their identity. They do not identify themselves as logisticians, pilots, or infantry officers. They identify themselves as Marines–with a duty to fight and abide by the code. Creating this single, shared identity prepares Dawson and Downey to have a tough mindset in dangerous situations, but it also turns them into agents of terror under the wrong commander. A real life experiment that shows how ordinary people can become agents of terror in obedience is the Stanford Prison Experiment by professor of psychology…show more content…
In the majority perspective, murder is regarded as an immoral, punishable act. However, Dawson and Downey have sacrificed their self-judgment believing that the murder of Santiago was moral because they had done their job in adhering to Marine code through obedience. One can even go as far as saying that the two Marines have sacrificed their self-judgment because they have been brainwashed into obedience. Dawson and Downey appear to be brainwashed during the first questioning scene in the brig with Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee and Lieutenant Commander Joanne Galloway. The Marines never maintained eye contact unless they are spoken to, never spoke unless they are asked direct questions, and continued to say “sir, yes sir” even after Kaffee says they do not have to address him as sir. Furthermore, because they only speak when asked direct questions, they withheld important details that could help in their defense. This important detail that Dawson withheld from Kaffee was the fact that Kendrick had ordered Dawson to give Santiago a “Code Red”. When Kaffee questions, “You mind telling me why the hell you never mentioned this before?” Dawson answers in monotone, “You didn’t ask us, sir”(Reiner, 1992). This demonstrates a complete lack of self-judgment from Dawson, as any ordinary person would want to share all details that could prevent them

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