AN Australian sports reporter was recently dismissed for tweeting disparaging and insulting comments about Anzac troops, on Anzac Day.
It has sparked debate about the realities of war and the freedom of reporters to broadcast the "truth", versus the insensitivity of the Twitter messages, which discussed atrocities that soldiers could have committed, including shooting of prisoners and rape. The tweets were a counter to what the reporter saw as the glorifying of the sacrifices at Gallipoli.
It's an interesting situation, because the journalist was tweeting in a private capacity. Still, it's not the best timing and not the best forum to make a point - it's like making unsubstantiated rants.
But I also believe there is room for considered discussion on the "nobility" of the sacrifice in times of war, which I think reached new levels with the 100-year Gallipoli commemorations. I don't think there needs to be ranting condemnation for any lack of "civilised" behaviour by soldiers in times of war. Since war itself is not civilised, its participants are likely to become uncivilised as well.
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It sometimes surprises me that people are surprised by the idea that our noble troops might have started fights in host countries, committed rape, shot prisoners and ended up in hospital for sexually transmitted diseases, rather than wounds.
You have to be realistic about war. If you tell someone they have permission to kill other people, that is likely to open up a big can of worms. All bets are off, in other words.
A man who is putting his life on the line, given the option to kill or be killed, is likely to have a pretty warped sense of what his rewards should be - especially if they feel their chain of command is indifferent to their fate.
It is right we remember those who sacrificed themselves in times of war. These were ordinary citizens who never had the chance to contribute, in countless ways, to our towns, our society. The reasons of why we fought do not lessen the right to hold their names close, lest we forget. But we should also not forget that war makes monsters of us all, and if we gather to reflect, we also gather to say: never again.