U.S. Military worried about Ecstasy use among soldiers.
April 16, 2001 10:47 AM   Subscribe

U.S. Military worried about Ecstasy use among soldiers. Yeah, I suppose they would be. Last thing we need are a bunch of empathetic, self-aware, hired killers. Seeing one's enemy as an extension of oneself tends to muck up the whole nationalism concept, and we can't have that, now can we?
posted by Optamystic (88 comments total)

 
From the article: They were served fish heads "until they realized we weren't into fish heads.''
posted by shinybeast at 10:51 AM on April 16, 2001


Shiny, I think you meant to post that in the last thread
posted by Outlawyr at 10:54 AM on April 16, 2001


I dunno, I kinda like the idea of the U.S. military being fed fish heads with E in them.
posted by kindall at 11:01 AM on April 16, 2001


Hmm, if I ran the army, I certainly wouldn't want my trained killing machines screwing up their perceptions of reality with substance abuse.
posted by Ravagin at 11:27 AM on April 16, 2001


They could always switch them over to khat. It worked for Somali warlords.
posted by dhartung at 11:28 AM on April 16, 2001


yeah, no kidding Ravagin.... it probably throws off their aim more than a little bit and their ability to operate heavy machinery (billion dollar heavy machinery, mind you) is imparied more than a little bit as well.
posted by Witold at 11:30 AM on April 16, 2001


Can you buy this stuff cheap at the PX the way you can the watered down beer? I might consider re-enlisting.
posted by Postroad at 11:37 AM on April 16, 2001


Hmm, if I ran the army, I certainly wouldn't want my trained killing machines screwing up their perceptions of reality with substance abuse.

If they had an accurate perception of reality, they wouldn't be hired killers, to begin with.
posted by Optamystic at 11:43 AM on April 16, 2001


Don't ask, don't tell.
posted by Hackworth at 11:59 AM on April 16, 2001


i'd make a comment about there being a difference between a "hired killer" and the military, but optamystic appears to have its mind made up and isn't open to any kind of rational discussion.

i guess i just don't have an "accurate perception of reality".

feh.
posted by fuzzygeek at 12:05 PM on April 16, 2001


Not to mention, witold, high-powered explosives.
posted by Ravagin at 12:23 PM on April 16, 2001


What exactly is the difference, fuzzygeek?

I'm not asking to be facetious, I'm genuinely curious. What else do the armed forces ultimately exist for, aside from either kicking some foreign ass or threatening to do same in order to pursue some other end?

Isn't that the whole point of all that weapons training and de-individualizing processes (the uniforms, the isolation, etc.)?
posted by chicobangs at 12:25 PM on April 16, 2001


Now now, let's not have an unseemly argument. There's room for all in here.

First, drug users may feel safe in their habits. I require a docile, happy proletariat full of love for one another and (more importantly) me, their Glorious Leader. Ecstasy for all! Happiness, love, and mild hallucinations await everyone!

As for the soldiers, I promise an exciting career full of nifty tailored uniforms, the high-tech skills so in demand today, and lots of amusing brutality. If you're not up to stomping proletariat heads on any particular day, we also have a full recreational sports program, and a great many high-resolution violence simulators. For an added bonus, you will retire as a member of the political elite! (25yr service record required for membership in the elite)
posted by aramaic at 12:26 PM on April 16, 2001


wow... being one of these former "hired killers" kinda makes me wonder how I am stereotyped as a killer when I never killed anyone.

But people on this board don't want to see it from other's perspectives, only thiers. Take your blinders off.
posted by da5id at 12:52 PM on April 16, 2001


makes me wonder how I am stereotyped as a killer when I never killed anyone

Maybe you're just really, really bad at it.
posted by kindall at 1:05 PM on April 16, 2001


People of various backgrounds and circumstances choose to serve in the army, though numbers have been disproportionately drawn from the lower class as distinction in military service has historically been a means to social advancement in western cultures (Alexander Hamilton and Colin Powell being two examples that come to mind immediately)

The army exists first and foremost to defend and, if need be, to kill an invading enemy. Obviously things have grown more complex than that. Unless anyone is going to declare that there is no need to maintain an army, can we accept that an army is, for now, a necessary thing?

No need to dismiss enlisted people out of hand as "killing machines".

And if they're taking E, so much the better. The army stopped testing LSD in the 1950s because it threatened to turn soldiers into Buddhist monks, or something.

T
posted by Dr. Boom at 1:07 PM on April 16, 2001


I think "hired killer" is an unfair term, as it implies a mercenary, someone who will kill for whoever offers the most money.
I have a certain degree of respect for members of the armed forces, kind of in the same way that I have respect for truly faithful religious folks (neither of which I could ever be). I can't explain it well, sorry.
posted by Ravagin at 1:07 PM on April 16, 2001


"e" in the military? hmmm, docile, loving soldiers? sort of turns jacob's ladder on its head.
posted by mapalm at 1:09 PM on April 16, 2001


Da5id, you may not have killed anyone, but you would have if only certain people asked you to. That is a bit unnerving to a lot of people outside the military. I wouldn't be so openly hostile toward the military as some people seem to be, as its pretty obvious (for instance) that you don't see what you did as becoming a hired killer, and probably never had the thought cross your mind. Our culture is in love with the military.
posted by Doug at 1:11 PM on April 16, 2001


and that can't be a bad thing.
posted by mapalm at 1:12 PM on April 16, 2001


mapalm, there is no "e" in "military." I wish I could turn that into some sort of snappy slogan.
posted by Ravagin at 1:12 PM on April 16, 2001


We agree that there is an established need for a military, yes? Unless someone has a foolproof plan for abolishing war and creating world peace and has just been holding out? No? Didn't think so.

Personally, I'm damn glad there's an enlisted, paid military in this country. Keeps my chances of getting drafted, or better yet, forced by gunpoint, into the army.
posted by starvingartist at 1:15 PM on April 16, 2001


Oops. Didn't close my sentence structure. What I meant to say was, keeps my chances of getting drafted, or better yet, forced by gunpoint, into the army very low.
posted by starvingartist at 1:17 PM on April 16, 2001


When I use the term "hired killer" it is to illustrate the point that the individual's morality and sense of humanity is subjugated to the whim of the government that employs them. Whether or not you killed someone is immaterial. If you had been handed a rifle, and ordered to kill someone, one would presume that you would have. It was part of your job description to pull that trigger, if so ordered. If you had refused, you would have been court-marshalled.

It has been my experience that Ecstacy promotes feelings of empathy between people, regardless of their nationality or politics. Therefore, it may make a soldier think of his "enemy" as his brother. It's easier to pull a trigger on a faceless, soulless, enemy than it is to pull that trigger on one's brother.
posted by Optamystic at 1:18 PM on April 16, 2001


Have you ever shot your own brother?

It's surprisingly easy. Fun, too.
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:34 PM on April 16, 2001


but optamystic appears to have its mind made up and isn't open to any kind of rational discussion.

He's a militant pacifist! ;)
posted by aaron at 1:35 PM on April 16, 2001



I can kind of see "where you're coming from" on that, optamystic, but I doubt that's what the military is worried about.
posted by Ravagin at 1:35 PM on April 16, 2001


440 tested positive in the whole army? Ha ha..
I've probably personally seen more Army guys then that on E.

Last year, Ottawa raver-kid clubs where lousy with guys from Fort Drum looking to score.. Good thing it's real easy in Ottawa raver-kid clubs..
posted by Leonard at 1:36 PM on April 16, 2001


From the article: "popular youth drug"

I just love the media... What exactly is a "youth drug"? Is that a drug that's still being tested? Or do they mean a drug for popular youths? What about the unpopular ones? Seems unfair if you ask me...
posted by fooljay at 1:38 PM on April 16, 2001


a friend of mine got booted out of the naval academy after testing positive for E.

now he goes to a junior college! exciting and new.
posted by sugarfish at 1:51 PM on April 16, 2001


Okay. If not "Hired Killer," then what?

(Da5id, I'm trying to actually take my blinders off here.)

You personally may not have killed anyone during your time of service, but I always thought they were called the armed forces because they either were forcing people to capitulate to / negotiate with some other group, or they were showing force against some group, be they another armed force or a civilian uprising or whatever.

To use modern corpspeak, aren't the forces actually service providers, vending the (still valuable, I guess, sure) service of being the world's bouncers?

And doesn't that basically mean that y'all are hired thugs, or part of an organization whose main product is thuggery?

(I swear these are honest questions. I'm really, really trying not to render judgement here.)
posted by chicobangs at 1:53 PM on April 16, 2001


Modern soldier == killing machine. Or at least he should be thanks to modern military training techniques.

In normal society, only about 2% of the population can be induced to kill without extreme duress or provocation. Military training has historically been fairly successful at improving this rate. However, in the history of combat from Alexander the Great through World War II, only about 15% of soldiers in battle were actively trying to kill the enemy - the rest were just faking it.

Rifles recovered from Civil War battlefields have been found stuffed to the brim with bullets. It seems the soldiers would pretend to fire, stop, "reload" their weapons, and repeat the process all over again as they slowly filled up their barrels with unused bullets.

Modern military training has significantly improved these numbers, achieving firing rates upwards of 90%.

Grossman's On Killing looks at the history of training killers and the modern military's extremely effective response to it. He also looks into the dangers that could arise from modern society's increasing fetishization of violence.
posted by ahughey at 1:54 PM on April 16, 2001


i agree with optamystic (amazing!). no one is saying that every member of the military is a moral-free hired gun that enjoys torturing entire vietnamese villages. however, when you enlist of your own accord, you do so with the assumption you are going to have to kill someone, be it with a bayonet on a musket or in a bomber over iraq. even if you enlist during peacetime, the military is there to fight battles and you know that you are at very high risk of having to do just that. that's what the military is for.

my question is how were the use numbers for other drugs? i would guess significantly higher. and how about the damage caused by the other drugs as compared to ecstasy? probably also much higher. so why does a lower usage level of a less harmful drug worry the Powers that Be?

the 500 out of the whole army statistic is the really striking bit to me. e is a peaceful happy drug, for the most part. obviously, there are many other soldiers on many other drugs - probably to a higher extent than the ecstasy usage. is the army worried about methamphetamine usage among its soldiers? no, it makes them mean. same with speed, same with cocaine. i think this figure and the army's response really demonstrates what optamystic said in the first place, which is that the army doesn't want its soldiers to feel that all is right with the world because it quenches their bloodlust. and that, to me, negates the argument that they don't want you doing drugs because you'll be impaired. i don't mean to sound like i'm advancing any conspiracy theories, i'm sure the military would be quite happy if everyone quit using drugs. but if you do decide to do drugs, they apparently sure as hell don't want you doing E.

this brings up myriad questions, depending on your feelings about ecstasy. is it right that the military should cast a blind eye toward a harmful "angry drug" but spaz out about use of a relatively danger-free "happy" one? isn't that somehow backwards? obviously not, for the military's purposes. but is that moral? do we need our soldiers kept angry and unhappy? when does that stop being "job training" and start being "brainwashing"? the on killing book ahughey mentioned is fascinating on this subject, if it's the same one i'm thinking of. lots of fascinating information about how the military goes about deprogramming people until they get that 90% effective rate.
posted by pikachulolita at 2:23 PM on April 16, 2001


The thing that seems unfair about nailing people for recreational drug use is, well you can test for it, and bust people. You can't for example test whether or not someone has sex with a prostitute or gambles in a poker game. So someone who smokes a joint on leave can have their life ruined, while other people who do things that are also illegal but lightly enforced and in some ways worse have no problem.
posted by chrismc at 2:28 PM on April 16, 2001


chrismc, those are all illegal, it's just easier to figure out if someone has been using drugs. In extremes, it's like killing and wearing a seatbelt. Or something. I hope I'm making sense.
posted by Ravagin at 3:07 PM on April 16, 2001


Hey, what's wrong with killing? We're not talking about murder here, after all.

Top brass should mandate weekly taxpayer-supplied grass-and-Dreamcast-Virtua-Tennis-doubles nights for enlisted men and women, and seasonal E-and-something-less-hyphenated parties for the officer corps (and the occasional non-com who is cool enough to hang with the big dogs).

Then the USA could put the "peace" back in "peacekeeping." Oh yeah!
posted by dfowler at 3:37 PM on April 16, 2001


killing machines... well, not quite the way they see it.
opt, have you actually met many enlisted folk?
most are average Joes (pun intended) who felt a moral obligation to protect and defend the freedoms and people of the U.S. Have you ever heard the Army's Oath of Enlistment?

Why worry about ecstasy? Well, its a new and rising threat to good order and discipline. the other drug rates are pretty steady and understood. BTW- most offenders are caught and chaptered out without courts-martial. As I once heard a Sgt. Major say "Its not that I have anything against these people (drug-users) I just don't want to have to rely on them to watch my back in a fire-fight."
posted by jackstark at 3:45 PM on April 16, 2001


I think its funny that the military tested LSD on soldiers to make them killing machines and essentially hooked recruits on drugs (heroin use in America began with Vietnam cuz they never had access before), and now they kick you out if you do drugs.
"You take OUR drugs! Youre taking your OWN drugs?!? Get out !"
posted by aphexfanatic at 3:59 PM on April 16, 2001


Curiously, this might be another stealth method for the Amerikanski army to root out fags. The drug officer quoted in the story specifically called E a club drug. Tons of straight guys take E, but the proportion is far higher for queers. It might trigger a certain kind of questioning for males who test positive, particularly in concert with other presumed indicators of homosexualism.
posted by joeclark at 4:13 PM on April 16, 2001


I kind of doubt it, joeclark. As jackstark was saying... I don't want my life theoretically in the hands of someone with a machine gun who is seeing giant pink insects attacking him.
(I dunno, does ecstacy make you hallucinate? or just happy? in that case, I don't want my hypothetical comrade in arms to be acting all friendly toward the trees instead of covering me)
posted by Ravagin at 4:26 PM on April 16, 2001


most are average Joes (pun intended) who felt a moral obligation to protect and defend the freedoms and people of the U.S. Have you ever heard the Army's Oath of Enlistment?

Okay, Colonel. I get it. I want you on that wall. I need you on that wall. I can't handle the truth. But if we could ask the marching band to pause for a moment, I'd like to ask you a question: When was the last time the freedoms, the property, or the physical persons of the citizens of the United States of America have been in serious danger from a foreign power?

It would seem that you read my post to be slanted against the people who have served in the modern military. This is not the case. A military has proven to be necessary in the past, and that occasion will probably arise again in the future. They do a (sometimes) necessary job that I find to be repulsive. So do trash collectors. I haven't seen any bronze statues erected in honor of Earl the Trash Guy lately.

My original question still stands. How can self-awareness, and empathy towards one's fellow human beings be considered a good thing, if you are expected to kill your fellow human beings at the word of a commanding officer? Once you realize that we are all very similar manifestations of the same consciousness, (an epiphany that E has been known to provide assistance with) then it becomes very difficult to deliberately harm those with which we have so much in common. We are in no danger of running out of people who are willing to kill others. So, a few G.I.'s getting on the peace train is not going to deal a fatal blow to the precious Esprit De Corps.

I know that my government will lie to me, if it is deemed expedient. My government will command me to commit unspeakable atrocities in the name of nationalism, of the "Good Old U.S.A.". My government considers me only marginally less expendable than it does the man, woman, or child who is in my rifle or missile sights at any given moment. These are not baseless allegations. These are facts that have been borne out repeatedly.

When it comes to matters of life and death, I will not sign my inner sense of morality over to those who have been proven untrustworthy. If a time comes when an enemy threatens my loved ones, or does great harm that I can prevent, I may fight. But that is a decision that I will make on my own, on the merits of the situation. I will not shrug and hand the keys to my soul over to some random thug, just because he has a higher supposed rank than I do. Because I am the one who is going to have to live with my actions, be they heroic or atrocious.
posted by Optamystic at 4:33 PM on April 16, 2001


If a time comes when an enemy threatens my loved ones, or does great harm that I can prevent, I may fight.

So we all get to keep our handguns and rifles in the number and variety we please, then?
posted by lileks at 4:38 PM on April 16, 2001


Firstly, MDMA is not as the article states an amphetamine.
Secondly, MDMA does not as the article states cause hallucinations.

Feeling less violent after MDMA consumption is true and therefore the worst recreational drug the armed forces have to deal with.
posted by Zool at 4:50 PM on April 16, 2001


So we all get to keep our handguns and rifles in the number and variety we please, then?

Yup. Just as long as you never leave your house with them, and sign a contract stating that you will serve two years in the "well regulated militia".
posted by Optamystic at 4:55 PM on April 16, 2001


Opt:
so, you really are getting your picture of the military from movies... I had wondered about that. are you familiar with the concept of Rules of Engagement? Did you read the Oath? didn't you notice the "lawful orders" part. Did you bother to think about what that meant? do you realize that all soldiers must take personal responsibility for shooting non-combatants, doing unnecessary harm, or causing unnecessary pain? The US army doesn't want killing machines. if you would bother to check out modern history and see what the military has actually been doing for the last decade, you might begin to realize that they don't just cause mass casualties. They actually help people .

Why not do drugs while in the military?
When your job requires teamwork, you have to be able to trust each other. You have to have confidence in your comrades' mental acuity, physical stamina, and concentration. Illicit drug use has a history of destroying all of these. While I've not seen any scientific studies on the complete effects of ecstasy, I'm pretty sure its not been safety tested.
posted by jackstark at 5:11 PM on April 16, 2001


Well, Jackstark, those rules of conduct didn't seem to help much in, lets say, Vietnam. At My Lai, how many women and children were slaughtered? And how many Americans were convicted of the crime? And of the ONE, what was his punishment? Do you actually believe that rules of conduct work?
posted by Doug at 5:29 PM on April 16, 2001


Tons of straight guys take E, but the proportion is far higher for queers.

What?! I'm appalled this statement. What rational explanation do you have for this gross misrepresentation?
posted by brittney at 5:34 PM on April 16, 2001


Doug,
Vietnam is largely responsible for the current army policies on rules of conduct. most of the examples taught to military personnel come from that war. at the time almost no attention was paid to training soldiers in how to deal with civilians on the battlefield. Today, before an overseas deployment, soldiers are given lengthy briefings on who is the enemy and how he is to be treated. extensive "real world" scenarios are used to train soldiers in how to react to numerous situations. simply put: today's army is not the one that fought there.
posted by jackstark at 5:52 PM on April 16, 2001


Today, before an overseas deployment, soldiers are given lengthy briefings on who is the enemy and how he is to be treated.

Quite.
posted by holgate at 6:22 PM on April 16, 2001


uhhm.. couldn't find anything applicable in the last link.

but, a little more on topic:

apparently e causes memory problems. not something anyone in the military can afford.
posted by jackstark at 6:34 PM on April 16, 2001


Zool, how might you respond to this? Especially:

MDMA is 3,4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine, a ring substituted derivative of phenethylamine, which is a close structural analog of amphetamine, methamphetamine and 3,4 methylenedioxyethylamphetamine (MDE: Eve). MDMA has both stimulant and hallucinogenic effects in humans.

I'd like to mention that I don't exactly understand what being a "ring substituted derivative" means. I probably will by the time anybody responds to this post, though.
posted by techgnollogic at 6:38 PM on April 16, 2001


I dunno, Jack. The memory problems might help out down the road when the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder kicks in.
posted by Optamystic at 6:39 PM on April 16, 2001


Techgnollogic, MDMA is not related to the amphetamine family even though it has the word in it's name, and the only reason that it's classified as an hallucinogen is because they have no where else to put it.

Try Hyperreal for a broader understanding of MDMA.

Also, i'm speaking from experience.
posted by Zool at 6:49 PM on April 16, 2001


I have three things to say about E:

-Like pot, it's a gateway drug. It typically (in the urban studies that I've seen and taken part in, as part of DrugSafe ... a group of loosely organized rave kids who hate seeing other ravers die... in Portland, Oregon) leads to LSD or Cocaine or Methamphetamine (Especially because the chemical structure of the drug, the real name of which is "methylenedioxymethamphetamine", is very simliar to Methamphetamines) use in a significant portion of the cases I've seen. Of course, the statistics may be skewed, becuase E use is sometimes hard to detect.

Zool: It does cause mild hallucinogenic effects (Accordiing to the National Institute on Drug Abuse... who should know), especially depending on what it's been cut with. This is why you see raver kids in those weird costumes with the glow sticks all over them. Glowsticks and things that glow in blacklight supposedly really look trippy while you're under the influence of E. (I have a -lot- drug allergies, so I stay away from all non-prescription drugs. Otherwise, I might've been tempted into trying it by now. I only have the experiences of close friends to relate to you.)

- There are big reasons that the army is concerned about E.

Here's a list of problems that XTC users have (from the National Institute on Drug Abuse page that I linked above):
-Psychological difficulties, including confusion, depression, sleep problems, drug craving, severe anxiety, and paranoia - during and sometimes weeks after taking MDMA.

-Physical symptoms such as muscle tension, involuntary teeth clenching, nausea, blurred vision, rapid eye movement, faintness, and chills or sweating.

-Increases in heart rate and blood pressure, a special risk for people with circulatory or heart disease.

-Also, there is evidence that people who develop a rash that looks like acne after using MDMA may be risking severe side effects, including liver damage, if they continue to use the drug.


- Additionally, E causes damage to the serotonin-emitting areas of the brain, hence this image: Brain Drain. Damage to these areas can cause problems with memory, emotions, and comprehension.

Now, I don't know about you, but a bunch of soldiers running around who can't remember what that skinny little sliver of metal that causes the big boom when they pull it sure scares me. This drug is a big problem, mostly because people do not take it as a serious problem.
posted by SpecialK at 6:53 PM on April 16, 2001


Yes, big problem indeed. At least if you don't want your armed forces turning into a bunch of wonderfully happy human beings.

I'm going to post more later on after I get to read all of the comments here. I think there is some serious FUD going on in here, much of it perpetuated by the "All drugs are Evil Spawn of Satan" crowd...

Remember, they spent billions telling you that second hand smoke killed. Sometimes, they don't know what they're talking about...
posted by fooljay at 7:14 PM on April 16, 2001


It certainly wouldn't do to fight any desert wars on E. Think of the killing the bartenders would make on bottled water. They'd probably get a sweetheart defense contract at twenty bucks a bottle, to boot.

"Shake-a-shake-a-shoot-shoot
shake-a-shake-a-shoot-shoot

I love this conga line! I love you, Republican Guardsmen! Come on, let's pa-a-a-artay!"
posted by dfowler at 7:14 PM on April 16, 2001


Special K- You are right, MDMA is classified as a hallucinogen by some, but as anyone who has experience with Ecstasy can tell you, it is not what most consider "tripping"--in any way. While on Ecstasy, among other things, your senses are dramatically heightened. The soft fabric of a sweater on your arm feels like nothing you've ever felt, sounds (especially music) resonate through your body (hence the all-night electronic music at raves). And your sight is enhanced as well. Strobe lights, glow sticks, a sunrise--even a camera flash becomes particularly beautiful. But not "trippy."

MDA, however, (a close relative of MDMA) creates more hallucinogenic-type visuals and a less loved-up feeling.

And as for memory loss, yes, there have been studies that show decreased memory loss in Ecstasy users. But what you don't often hear is that they are extremely heavy and prolonged users. Most use every week for more than a year. This is hardly the frequency of ingestion for E users that I know.

Check the vault's of Erowid for all you ever wanted to known about the allusive Ecstasy.

Also, this is an article about how the Dutch are more leniant with E users. It is a more even piece about Ecstasy than you will see in most other mainstream publications.
posted by brittney at 7:14 PM on April 16, 2001


Sorry, Optamystic, but you kinda lost me when you started this thread. Maybe I'm mistaken, but your wording makes it sound like you condone or even support Ecstasy use. Bad mojo.

Funny, I've never needed drugs to feel self-aware or empathetic. Makes me think E users are lazy.
posted by Spirit_VW at 7:21 PM on April 16, 2001


nothing wrong with condoning recreational drug use. nothing at all. just because something is illegal, doesn't mean it's wrong.

and ecstasy causing hallucinations might look good on paper, but in reality you'll have a hard time finding anyone who has experienced close to actual hallucinations under the influence.

oh, and the other thing that gets me is the annoy persistence of people to refer to any recreational drug use as 'drug abuse'. at what stage does drug use become drug abuse? i'd say it's got something to do with the point where the usage becomes excessive, and starts to have detrimental effects on other aspects of the person's life. a pill at a weekend rave won't do that, hense it's not abuse.
posted by titboy at 7:50 PM on April 16, 2001


Yeah, but when your job is to tote a very large gun around and make sure you point it in the right direction, should you be doing something that inhibits or damages your brain in any way?
posted by SpecialK at 7:54 PM on April 16, 2001


Yeah, but when your job is to tote a very large gun around and make sure you point it in the right direction, should you be doing something that inhibits or damages your brain in any way?

You drive during the day: does that mean you shouldn't drink at night (when not driving), because drinking inhibits your ability to drive safely?

I'd imagine that soldiers are taking pills on weekends and during leave periods. So what? Better that than knocking back 12 pints and smashing up Aldershot again.
posted by holgate at 8:22 PM on April 16, 2001


(my point being that soldiers don't traditionally have a chaste and temperate lifestyle outside duty hours.)
posted by holgate at 8:30 PM on April 16, 2001


You're right, Holgate, they don't.

But alcohol doesn't permanantly affect your memory, coordination, or perception of the world around you.

Please note, all critics of my posts: I go to raves I have seen people on MDMA. I have been offered MDMA. I have helped develop pamphlets on MDMA. I've helped people who mixed drugs barf it all back up, and I've made sure they got to an emergency room if there was still too much weird chemistry goin' on in there.

Speaking generally,This Is Not Good Shit. Especially because, unless someone's there with a test kit, you don't know what it really is or what's in it.
posted by SpecialK at 8:37 PM on April 16, 2001


Spirit VW:
Maybe I'm mistaken, but your wording makes it sound like you condone or even support Ecstasy use. Bad mojo.

What's wrong with that? Ecstasy is not very dangerous. Illegal, true, but if drug laws had anything to do with safety, cigarette possession would get you a year in jail and you'd be able to pick up LSD at the 7-11. If one's opinion is that ecstasy use is generally a good thing, where's the "bad mojo" in saying so?

Funny, I've never needed drugs to feel self-aware or empathetic. Makes me think E users are lazy.

Your statement does not demonstrate this empathy. Instead you sound rather insensitive. So you don't enjoy chemically altered mental states - bully for you. Enjoy your enlightenment. Maybe the rest of us aren't so lucky.

How is a state of mind less valuable, merely because one took a shortcut to get there? Isn't the state of mind good enough in itself? Taking E to feel empathy is no more lazy than driving to a park instead of hiking in is lazy. It takes less work, true - but sometimes "less work" is the difference betwen "possible" and "not an option".

-Mars
posted by Mars Saxman at 8:49 PM on April 16, 2001


Maybe I'm mistaken, but your wording makes it sound like you condone or even support Ecstasy use. Bad mojo.

I condone or support anything that's gonna make a grunt think twice before he picks up his rifle and points it at some undernourished Iraqi conscript and blows the poor bastard to smithereens in the name of God and Country. I'd rather see that G.I. munching Ecstasy tabs from a Pez dispenser than see him bust multiple caps in Arabic asses, all the while reassuring himself that he's making the world safe for Mom and Apple Pie, Inc.

Beyond that, I would say that the decision to use or not to use any mind altering substance is a personal one. I'm not endorsing E use. I do know that, under the right circumstances, it can encourage certain feelings of warmth and empathy. These feelings may lead to a greater appreciation of humanity as a whole, for certain individuals. That, in turn, may lead to a soldier seeing that he has much in common with his supposed enemy. To see him as an individual, rather than as an idealogical foe. In other words, it may encourage him, as he's squinting through that rifle sight, to see not a uniform, or an idealogical foe, but a human being.
posted by Optamystic at 9:03 PM on April 16, 2001


Speaking generally,This Is Not Good Shit. Especially because, unless someone's there with a test kit, you don't know what it really is or what's in it.

It isn't as if testing kits are hard to come by. Everyone who uses E should have one. $20 for a kit that tests 200 pills. Sounds pretty reasonable to me.

I have one. Most of my friends have one. Even a few dealers I know have one.

I've tested many, many pills for my friends and myself (around 75, I think) and none of them have been anything but MDMA/MDA/MDEA. Lucky? Very. But it also says something for the frequency of "killer pills."

BTW, get your tester here: EZ Test.
posted by brittney at 9:13 PM on April 16, 2001


But alcohol doesn't permanantly affect your memory, coordination, or perception of the world around you.

SpecialK, I work in San Francisco's South of Market area and live in the Haight. I can tell you with absolute certainty that the people around me day-to-day did not get that way by reading the New York Times.

Abuse (defined here as excessive usage) of any substance can permanently harm you or even kill you. The key here is moderation. Alochol, Oxygen (O2 toxicity), regular air (hyperventilation leading to (Respiratory alkalosis)) and even water can kill you. Strangely enough excessive water is is the etiology in some Ecstasy deaths as is not enough water.

The human body can only take so much of any substance before it says no more. The key is moderation. One tab of ecstasy (or even 10 or 20) over a lifetime won't kill you or harm you in any way. You can set the limits as you like, but the fact remains that Ecstasy is not the big scary boogie man that some would have you believe it is.

Please note, all critics of my posts: I go to raves I have seen people on MDMA. I have been offered MDMA. I have helped develop pamphlets on MDMA. I've helped people who mixed drugs barf it all back up, and I've made sure they got to an emergency room if there was still too much weird chemistry goin' on in there.

And how is this different from alcohol?

Speaking generally,This Is Not Good Shit. Especially because, unless someone's there with a test kit, you don't know what it really is or what's in it.

Isn't that the real problem with Ecstasy? Being illegal means that you have to get it off of the streets where who knows what could be mixed with it: heroin, speed, LSD, rat poison... That's why it's a very good thing to have one of these around... I totally agree with you that taking something without knowing what it is is just plain stupid, and can lead to some horrible horrible turn of events.

I suppose the short and long of it is spreading misperceptions or painting a subject with the wide brush of sensationalism doesn't do anyone any good. It's unfortunate that this is the tactic used most by the W.O.D. people... We could all be much more effective in battling drug-related death/injury if the PR machine didn't say that every drug that comes out is evil and will kill you.
posted by fooljay at 9:59 PM on April 16, 2001


Yup. Just as long as you never leave your house with them, and sign a contract stating that you will serve two years in the "well regulated militia".

Sarcasm aside, what do you expect you will be fighting with if that day ever comes where an enemy threatens your loved ones, or does great harm? You appear to dislike the idea of anyone having access to weapons except for those few who belong to the groups that actually do have the power to suppress you, should they ever choose to try.
posted by aaron at 10:33 PM on April 16, 2001



Um...right...anyway, since the gun control thing has been done to death, shall we get back to the matter at hand?
posted by Optamystic at 10:44 PM on April 16, 2001


ok, on topic...

I don't want my red-blooded, steak eating American fighting machine blissed out on ex when they're mowing down commie scum.

(the preceding is comedic hyperbole. but i don't want our soldiers on anything like that)
posted by owillis at 11:12 PM on April 16, 2001


No red-blooded, steak eating American fighting machine is gonna be mowing down commie scum at all if they're on E.

But they won't be dropping in battle situations in the first place, if they're smart, same as they better not be drinking on the front lines neither, for the same reason.

And that two pack a day habit is going to screw with their stamina, which is crucial in protracted battle situations.

And (and!) with booze and smokes, the lingering effects last a hell of a lot longer after the 'high' subsides than with E. (In my experience, anyway.)

The illegality of the specific drug in question aside, I don't see much difference. So why not regulate everything? A coherent and focused army is paramount, right?
posted by chicobangs at 1:51 AM on April 17, 2001


Optamystic,

When I use the term "hired killer" it is to illustrate the point that the individual's morality and sense of humanity is subjugated to the whim of the government that employs them.

That is not the case.

All of your examples of how a heightened sense of empathy would keep our guy from firing his weapon seem to assume that the American soldier in each is perpetrating an act of aggression against peaceful opposition, commiting a murder, or participating in some kind of war crime. If your point is that all war is crime, then wouldn't you be better off recommending regular Ecstacy dosages to our leaders, the higher-ups you demonize so dismissively? Instead you persist in advocating "personal decisions" that endanger the lives and functions of lots of other people.

If your claim is that a drug that usually leaves the body within 48 hours will cause some lasting effects on the moral perceptions of "certain individuals," what do you expect the consequences of those changes in perception to be? That they leave the Army and lead peaceful lives? The article says that in most cases anybody who tests positive for Ecstacy is discharged, so what's your beef?

It doesn't help you to identify with the enemy if the enemy still wants to kill you. Your fellow ruthless mercenaries won't appreciate it if your sense of empathy gets their asses shot off, either. The issue here is the United States Military wants to maintain coherence and dependability. Sounds good to me.

You say that if a time comes when you and your loved ones are directly threatened by an enemy, you might fight. Doesn't that make you some kind of inhuman monster too? Why wouldn't you just pop a pill and enjoy the enhanced sensations of destruction all around you? I bet an AK sounds pretty wild while you're rollin...
posted by techgnollogic at 2:34 AM on April 17, 2001


techgnollogic:

In my experience, all firearms sound pretty wild while you're rollin'. Sometimes all echo-ey on single fire. Semi-automatics on full fire make this wah-wah or chorus-pedal phase shift overtone when you empty the magazine. The dirt clods leaping out of the ground are cause for much giggling.

I can't imagine combat on E. Paintball on E is goofy -- everybody is constantly giving away their position by calling out "I see you!" or jumping up to fire on enemy positions while cackling maniacally. And the paintballs, when they hit you, damn, they hurt. Like, "wow! That sh!t hurts!" and then you start shouting "medic! medic!" because it's funny, and then when they come to tag you, you shoot them, because you rose from the dead.

Then again, adrenaline and E mix really well.

And yes, I am a totally irresponsible person.
posted by dfowler at 5:38 AM on April 17, 2001


What is sad, is that many of you automatically stereotype someone who joins the military as an individual that is going to fight.

The reality is, is that the majority of the people in the Armed Forces are not in Combat roles. Upwards of 60%-70% of all people in the Military are in Support roles. Administration, cooks, garbage collectors, medical, legal, etc...

Yet these people are automatically assumed to be THUGZ as some of you so nicely stated.

Da5id, you may not have killed anyone, but you would have if only certain people asked you to...

...that you don't see what you did as becoming a hired killer, and probably never had the thought cross your mind. Our culture is in love with the military.


Doug> What exactly did I do? Did I commit some sort of illegal act? Some type of moral wrong? Please explain it to me.

I have thought long and hard about my military experience. I was one of the few in a direct Combat Role. I often wonder if I would have been able to fight. Before and after my training. And each time I come to the same conclusion. HELL YES.

Would I pull the trigger on some poor conscripted Iraqi? Hell yes if he was pulling his trigger at me, and that poor conscripted Iraqi was one of those responsible for invading Kuwait and plundering and raping its people. Or was gassing Kurdish people to death.

Okay. If not "Hired Killer," then what?

Try Soldier, Marine, Airman, or Sailor. Those are usually the appropriate titles.

You personally may not have killed anyone during your time of service, but I always thought they were called the armed forces because they either were forcing people to capitulate to / negotiate with some other group, or they were showing force against some group, be they another armed force or a civilian uprising or whatever.

No, they are called the Armed Forces because they are "ARMED"

And doesn't that basically mean that y'all are hired thugs, or part of an organization whose main product is thuggery?

Ummm... no. Thugs are are typically thought of as mindless muscle. You would be surprised at how many people in the "Armed Foreces" can think for themselves.

You may want to try and use words that are less "inflammatory" Thuggery and hired killers will get you no where.

Opt> I don't like our Military to be thought of as the World's 911 Emergency service. I hate it. I don't feel we should be the ones who respond to each and every little Brush war that pops up. I feel it puts our men and women in the Military in unnecessary danger.

However... The United States is considered the World's final Super-Power. In that, I mean, the United States is about the only nation that project its military strength in so many Hemispheres at the same time (Aircraft Carriers).

Because of this, many nations, especially smaller ones, expect us to provide mediation, support (Typhoons), and intervention when requested.
posted by da5id at 5:57 AM on April 17, 2001


The vacuum in which some people's world exists is alarming.

If only the US military was peaceful then there would be no violence.

If only bad words were removed from society there would be no bad thoughts.

You want to take drugs, go ahead. Don't join the military, be a programer like me.
posted by Mick at 6:23 AM on April 17, 2001


fooljay- your last post was excellent, but I have to quibble with one tiny thing: There has never been heroin found in any pills sold as Ecstasy. Or cocaine for that matter.

These substances aren't active orally (well, coke is, but not the amount that would fit into a pressed pill). And it isn't very cost efficient either.

That doesn't mean there isn't some other horrid substance in there--so testing is essential.

I just hate to hear people talk about having tried heroin because they had a "smacky" roll once.

er, I never knew I was learned about drugs. hmm.
posted by brittney at 12:58 PM on April 17, 2001


it's interesting how defensive military types are about their involvement in said military... why?

(the preceding is comedic hyperbole. but i don't want our soldiers on anything like that)

i don't want our soldiers on anything. but if they have to be on drugs, i would much rather they were on e than anything else. i don't understand why a relatively harmless drug that makes you feel happy is considered so goddamn evil in any context. someone explain it to me?

But alcohol doesn't permanantly affect your memory, coordination, or perception of the world around you.

i hate to say it, but bull-fucking-shit. i'm not sure how many alcoholics you've been around, but what you said is entirely untrue. at least e isn't addictive. besides which, the only one of these things that e really does is possibly affect your memory, and alcohol does it far more than ecstasy does. and i suppose you could make a case for perception of the world... but it's a *good* change. for most people, if e has lasting emotional affects (outside of real-long-term use), they are overwhelmingly positive.

this is a very tough thread because there are two issues mixing, and people that know about one issue generally don't know anything about the other.

i really think y'all are being too hard on optamystic. you act like no one's ever disapproved of the military before. you also act like he's burning the american flag and gunning down soldiers. some people think that the military is wrong. as a collective, i totally agree that soldiers are inherently "killing machines". on a personal level, most of my relatives have been in the army. i think no less of them. i don't think they are killing machines. there is a mighty big difference between one's moral outrage at a collective and extending that moral outrage to specific people. but i can tell you that it doesn't help my (very generalized) perception of the military at large as jackbooted brainwashed yes machines when Colonel Foghorn Leghorn tells me where i'd be without Our Country's Finest. and getting defensive about it rather than even *listening*.

What exactly did I do? Did I commit some sort of illegal act? Some type of moral wrong?

a lot of people would say yes, you committed a moral wrong. a lot of people think that the armed forces are morally wrong. a lot of people think that killing is in every case wrong.

another thing that i think is being overlooked way too much in this thread is that the soldiers are not dropping mad E-b0mbzzzz on the BATTLEFIELD. it's not like they're looking Charlie in the eye with hatred one second, coming up, and dropping their weapons to try to give the ol' VC a big bear hug. this is a recreational drug and i would lay good money that it's used, if not responsibly, then at least outside the realm of duty.

All of your examples of how a heightened sense of empathy would keep our guy from firing his weapon seem to assume that the American soldier in each is perpetrating an act of aggression against peaceful opposition, commiting a murder, or participating in some kind of war crime.

what do you think the military is for, i'm curious? why do we retain armed personnel? to play Really Bitchin' Soccer? if he's firing his weapon in combat, he is intending to commit murder, no? it's one thing to defend that morally depending on the situation at hand, but to deny murder out of hand is ridiculous. murder isn't just when psychos kill people. it's when anyone knowingly kills another human being. you fire your weapon in combat, you are knowingly killing another human being. concurrently, if you sign up for the military, you know you are going into a situation where you may have to do just that. that is where the "military as killers" image comes from; you don't go into the military and think that you will never have anything to do with another human's death. by the time you willingly enlist, you have to have come to grips with that. i know i would have a hard time doing that. and while i won't tell you that you shouldn't enlist, i will question the state of mind.

(disclaimer: some of pacifist statements may be influenced by recent viewing of apocalypse now)
posted by pikachulolita at 2:41 PM on April 17, 2001


oh great, now that looked even *more* huge than it did before. ^_^
posted by pikachulolita at 2:42 PM on April 17, 2001


There has never been heroin found in any pills sold as Ecstasy. Or cocaine for that matter.

You're asbolutely right, Brittney. Thanks!
posted by fooljay at 3:37 PM on April 17, 2001


Frankly, who needs drugs when you have books? That's my philosophy, anyway.
posted by Ravagin at 6:16 PM on April 17, 2001


by pikachulolita:
what do you think the military is for, i'm curious? why do we retain armed personnel? to play Really Bitchin' Soccer? if he's firing his weapon in combat, he is intending to commit murder, no?

No, of course not, thanks. Every death in combat is not murder. Murder is always unlawful. War is not. War is not good, war is not fun, but war is not - in essence - murder.

But, you might want to notice that I asked Optamystic if his point was that all war is crime, which would make all combat deaths murder, and if so why wasn't he recommending Ecstacy for GWB and the boys... If you guys are such pacifists, what's this about weakening the front lines? That'll just get people killed.
posted by techgnollogic at 7:31 PM on April 17, 2001


No, of course not, thanks. Every death in combat is not murder. Murder is always unlawful. War is not. War is not good, war is not fun, but war is not - in essence - murder.

i disagree.

But, you might want to notice that I asked Optamystic if his point was that all war is crime, which would make all combat deaths murder, and if so why wasn't he recommending Ecstacy for GWB and the boys... If you guys are such pacifists, what's this about weakening the front lines? That'll just get people killed.

i would love it if gwb took e. as for soldiers, i think that physically they are weakened far more by alcohol and smoking, as was pointed out earlier in the thread. e doesn't have any long-term physical damage associated with it. alcohol does. soldiers drink. why is e so bad?
posted by pikachulolita at 9:24 PM on April 17, 2001


Tech, by your definition, all we have to do is make killing someone legal, and then suddenly it isnt murder. Which may, in the most strict and absurd sense be true, but in many people's definition, murder is an IMMORAL killing. The absurdity of the situation is that if I kill some guy outside a 7-11 I'm a murderer, but if I kill a guy who isn't american, in another country, when my government tells me to, I'm a hero.
posted by Doug at 10:11 PM on April 17, 2001


My inclusion of malice and cruelty in the definition of murder got edited out of my last post at some point. Yes, I agree that the issue of legality is not the only factor in defining murder. I do not, however, think intentionally causing the death of another human being is a complete definition of murder either.

pikachoulolita: I agree that alcohol and cigarettes have negative effects on a soldier's potential. I think issues are separated from Ecstacy use primarily by the question of legality. Because cigarettes and alcohol are legal, their physical impact matters. If a soldier is drunk, get's fat and lazy, or fails fitness tests because he can't catch his breath or stop coughing, then those behaviors (cigarette and alcohol use) have consequences and disciplinary penalties. If Ecstacy use was legal, then its effects would be the issue here, too. It's the legal status of the drug, right now, that makes it a concern for the military.
posted by techgnollogic at 11:46 PM on April 17, 2001


Damn you techgnollogic! Don't try to make us stick to the point... ;->
posted by fooljay at 12:32 AM on April 18, 2001


alright then, techgnollogic, but from there the discussion turns to "should ecstasy be legal", and i don't think that's a minefield we want to enter. it's probably really obvious which side i'd come down on.

alright, if murder is too loaded a word for you, then killing will work. it's more scientific. i don't think killing is moral. i think that there are times when it is necessary: if someone is attacking you or someone you love, and is *actually* attacking, not just threatening, then yes, alright, you are justified. but responding to an immoral act with another otherwise immoral act does not, to me, make it moral. it makes it justifiable and it would enable me to live with myself, but it doesn't mean i didn't take another's life. however, i think that killing-politics are entirely different on a personal level from on a countrywide level. if someone came at me with a gun, yes, i would defend myself. if someone came after someone i love with a gun, i would defend them. i would do my best to stop someone who was committing murder even on someone i didn't know. but i will still have to live with my own conscience, and whether or not i saved a life in the process, i still killed. this isn't something i think i'd be able to take lightly. and i'm not implying that any of you would be able to brush it off, either.

the military, on the other hand, is a very different matter. soldiers obey orders, and that absolves them of any judgment i could in any way justify in a routine combat situation. if they act under orders, my only moral complaint can go to the officer that ordered the attack. the soldier still deals with what he's done, but that is his job, certainly not mine. the only problem i can have with a soldier is that (if) they enlisted voluntarily, and that only because it belies a mindset that i find repugnant. and even at that, maybe they don't think it's morally right but think it is justifiable in the face of whatever evil we are up against. it is so subjective that i cannot place my judgment on any individual soldier. however, the military is a government machine. when the military as a whole takes action, i blame the military. i do not think of the military as made up of soldiers. the military is more a concept to me. it represents the people giving the orders and the moral dirt of soldiers carrying them out. certainly, it's brave and moral and wonderful to refuse to carry out an order with which you do not agree, but i cannot fault any soldier for failing to do this.

another reason i am not speaking of individual soldiers is the attempt at complete personality disintegration that the military machine makes. desensitization to violence, almost instinctual response to orders, ability to affect tunnel vision when necessary... it molds soldiers until they are less like the people they began as and more like my personal archetype of The Military. my problem is not with the individual soldier but with a) the higher-ups that give immoral orders and b) the overall mindset that accompanies the typical military type.

so, when i say "soldiers are hired killers", i don't mean each individual soldier is a hired killer. i mean that they as a whole are paid to carry out orders, and those orders involve (or can involve) killing. i work at kmart; i am a hired retailer. it's my job. if someone asked me to kill for my job, i would say no because i didn't go into it knowing that was a part of the job description (but wouldn't kmart be much better off?). however, if i decided to enter the military and i was ordered to kill, between my understanding of my job description and my boot camp personality destruction hazing, i'm sure i would. after all, when i entered the military, i knew that killing was a probable part of the job description. i have already prepared myself to justify killing. i'd like to think that i'd have the moral fortitude to make a judgment at the time as to whether or not my specific action outweighed the total evil, but i seriously doubt i'd be any good at moral thought in combat. so i think i would kill. therefore, i judge no one that kills justifiably in combat. i keep putting "within reason"-type statements in so as to not excuse soldiers going out of control, killing everything that moves -- massacres. i think everyone agrees that this is wrong. i am speaking specifically of routine, what-you-are-supposed-to-do combat.

so yes, i'm saying that every time you kill someone, either when they're attacking your decrepit mother or pointing a gun at you from across a VC rice paddy, it is immoral. however, it is not unjustifiable. you are the only one that has to live with your own conscience. illegality aside, if you kill and you feel that the moral wrong you averted is worth the moral wrong that you have just committed, then good, there's some weight off your heart. but if you ignore that you killed another human being and took a life and just chalk it up to Good triumphs over Evil, you are deceiving yourself. you are not taking your actions seriously enough. and this is the mindset that i find so incredibly distasteful. this is the mindset that i see all the time out of veterans that makes me think that the military is populated by morally bankrupt, contemptible people. if you take a human life without thinking about why, about the consequences, without weighing your reasons against their potential wrongs, then you have in my mind become a psychopath because you have little to no conscience.
posted by pikachulolita at 3:57 PM on April 18, 2001


Two people were sent to FEDERAL PRISON (!!!!) for use or possession of X?????????? That is just disgusting. Won't someone EVER use our tax dollars to put ACTUAL criminals in prison instead of wasting money on drug users - especially the "casual" users???????? This is just a prime example of the lunacy of our system. Makes me want to leave the "land of the free" for good.
posted by michelle at 5:35 PM on April 18, 2001


pikachulolita: Something seems sketchy in your argument. It's like you're saying some immoral things are justified, but then you're knocking the military for being immoral, whether justified or not. Nobody is claiming that killing people is ever swell, nor is anyone proposing that immoral and unjust/unnecessary killing never happens. That said, its not reasonable to hold something (the military) to a standard (morality) that is not robust enough to apply (because, according to you, some immoral things are necessary and justified). It's like saying, "You had to do it, but you shouldn't have done it." If you'd like to argue that the military is grossly and regularly unjust and unnecessary in its very operation, fine, but you can't do that from a moral standpoint within the framework you've just established, and dwelling on the immorality of necessary acts* doesn't make sense.

* I'm still not sure about the premise that some justified/necessary acts are immoral. Seems to me that if an action is the most justified option, and necessary, then it is the best option and therefore the right one. This doesn't mean such acts are going to always make everybody happy, of course. I think killing another human is perhaps always unfortunate, but not always immoral.
posted by techgnollogic at 8:34 PM on April 18, 2001


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