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July 25, 2005

Ain’t No Use in Goin’ Home
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 09:09 AM * 60 comments

Ain’t no use in goin’ home Jody got your girl and gone
Ain’t no use in feelin’ blue
Jody took your auto too.
Lost your car in a poker game
Left your gal for another dame
Now she’s down in New Orleans
Sells her ass to earn her beans.

And so on. Endlessly on, for miles of marching.

Via Atrios:

Shrapnel From Home

KILLEEN, Texas—Most of the men in 4th Squad, Charlie Battery, fought two wars while they were in Iraq. There was the war against the insurgents that had them patrolling for roadside bombs and raiding houses at all hours. Then there was the war back home, which had them struggling, over phone lines from 7,000 miles away, to keep their marriages and their bank accounts intact.

They say they eventually got used to the bombs. The crazy possibility of dying any minute didn’t haunt them so much. But that other war, that was the one that tore them up in the downtime spent in Sgt. Cox’s trailer at Camp Victory. It would get quiet, and then one or another of them would ask: “So, how are things going at home?” And they would begin to brood.

They all knew about “Jody,” the opportunist of Army lore who moved in on a soldier’s girl while the soldier was off fighting a war. They had sung hundreds of cadences in basic training deriding the name. But it had always seemed like a joke, something that happened to other guys.

A joke? Happens to other guys? Well, actually, no. It’s so common that marching cadences in general are called “Jodies.” Before the long (six page) article is over, we learn that since Mr. Bush’s war began, Army divorces have risen 80%.

For some in the 4th Squad, the tensions played out nightly in Camp Victory’s “Internet cafe”—the Army trailer with rows of computers where soldiers flocked to contact their families. Some found more pain there than comfort. [SGT] Cox’s wife was five months pregnant when she announced she was leaving him and going back home to Lawton, Okla.

There’s even a verb: to be Dear Johnned. That’s the “Dear John” letter, which apparently got its name during WWII.

A big part of the problem, I think, is that the Army isn’t used to long deployments. The Army wives used to complain about two-week field exercises. The Navy wives would just look at them like “get a grip.” The Navy had six- to nine-month deployments every year. You coped, or knew very soon that you couldn’t.

There are six men in the squad, and five of them saw their marriages or relationships come under severe pressure. One relationship survived and three didn’t; the fate of the fifth is unresolved.

Concentrating on the mission became hard. Sitting in a Humvee, waiting for orders to roll out, the men would think about how life at home was falling apart and they could do little about it.

“When we go outside that gate and into Baghdad, you’ve got to have your head straight,” said Cox, who now lives alone in an apartment at Ft. Hood. “You’re trying to stay alive, but your mind goes to back home. Whatever problem you had before you left escalates, because you’re not there. … I just wish she would have talked to me.”

Another thing we’d see a lot of were marriages just before we sailed, and the same guys getting divorced as soon as they got back. I expect the Army is seeing the same thing—get married before you deploy, even it it’s rushing things.

In wartime, that isn’t totally unreasonable: If you get your head blown off there are benefits for Army widows. There aren’t any benefits for girlfriends.

Peacetime, I used to tell my troops, “Listen, don’t get married. If it’s real it’ll still be real when you get back. If it isn’t real, it still won’t be real when you get back but there’ll be a lot less paperwork.”

I remember the movie Fatal Attraction, where the Michael Douglas character can’t handle having his wife away over the weekend and so picks up with a book editor. I saw that with a bunch of my brother officers. Many of us hadn’t seen our wives in a year or so. We just laughed at him.

Any time you got back from cruise, the first week would be real tough for everyone. It’s like, “Who are you?” You develop coping mechanisms for this, but if you’ve never done it before, and it’s not anything anyone you know has done before, you’re trying to make it up as you go along—not the best way to get an optimum solution.

The Navy has the opposite problem than the Army does in this story. Our divorce rate shoots up after the guy retires or gets permanent shore duty and he’s hanging around all the time. I think that the underlying problem isn’t deployment, or lack of deployment; it’s change in routine.

A different article now:

“Dear John,” the letter began. “I have found someone else whom I think the world of. I think the only way out is for us to get a divorce,” it said. They usually began like that, those letters that told of infidelity on the part of the wives of servicemen… The men called them “Dear Johns”. (Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, August, 1945)

There’s been a fair amount of speculation on the origin of the term:

Several subscribers have mentioned a song on the theme of receiving a “Dear John” letter, suggesting it was the origin of the phrase. However, online sources say it appeared only in 1953, several years after the phrase had become established. A more plausible source was suggested by Dick Kovar, in a pre-World War Two radio programme called Dear John, starring Irene Rich, which was presented as a letter by a gossipy female character to her never-identified romantic interest and which opened with these words. Proving a link is likely to be impossible, but it’s conceivable this played a part in the genesis of the term.

Where shall we go from here? How about the classic “Dear John Letter” legend:

The soldier serving overseas, far from home was annoyed and upset when his girl wrote breaking off their engagement and asking for her photograph back.

He went out and collected from his friends all the unwanted photographs of women that he could find, bundled them all together and sent them back with a note saying……….. “Regret cannot remember which one is you—please keep your photo and return the others.”

All you deployed guys, take a word of advice from a fellow who’s been deployed more times than he can count: Don’t ask your sweetie questions if you don’t want to know the answers.

And you Jodies? Do me a favor. If you’re banging a soldier’s spouse, please put one of those yellow “Support Our Troops” magnetic ribbons on your SUV. Just so everyone will know you’re doing your part.

Comments on Ain't No Use in Goin' Home:
#1 ::: Leslie ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2005, 09:42 AM:

My dad did 20 years in the Navy; and yes, the time after he got out was when my parents' marital problems really got bad. One reason why I've always been reluctant to get involved with an active serviceman.

#2 ::: Michelle ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2005, 10:45 AM:

Soldiers at home can't always adjust either.

Though this article's focus is more on infidelity while deployed, divorces once they get home seem just as common.

In my own case the ex marine I was married to was still adjusting to a life with not being told what to do. He wanted his word to be law, regardless of the concequences. At first I ignored comment's like "He's not thinking right" but pretty soon it got to be too much.

Needless to say we aren't married anymore. I still find it amazing to watch the self-destructive behavior in other ex servicemen I meet. For me, it is a good arguement against wars we don't have to fight.

#3 ::: Mary Root ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2005, 11:44 AM:

Reminds me of how one of my mother's friends described retirement: half the money, double the husband.

#4 ::: Michael Turyn ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2005, 02:44 PM:

My father, Legion (Free French) veteran and P.o.W., put it simply, "Soldiers hate civilians...they have it easy, while you're stuck out there."

He instilled in me a reflexive hatred of generals that I remember every time I hear people falling all over themselves praising Powell. I think, "That's a sure sign not enough of them are vets," (as if I were).

In many ways, he stayed a soldier until the day he died, in his hatred of inactivity and foolish display, and love of sleep and good food, in his reflexive improvisation, and in his wary (in some ways) engagement with civilian life even as he in his particular way excelled at it.

#5 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2005, 02:45 PM:

I was reading this point and thinking to myself, "hey, this sounds like a detail in a novel I read, which I recall thinking gave the book a feeling of authenticity."

And then I remembered that the novel was _Tiger Cruise_ and said "duh, no wonder."

#6 ::: Michael Turyn ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2005, 02:52 PM:

On a less serious note, there's the Firesign Theatre's hack

You ain't got no friends on the Left (You're Right!).
You ain't got no friends on the Right (You're Left!).
Hound dog (One two)
Poontang (Tree Frog)
Hound dog, poontang, coontown (I'se white!).

from How can you be in two places at once when you're not anywhere at all?.
(Pardon any offence at some of the words; the F.T. felt entitled to use dialect, most often to poke fun at it, but sometimes perhaps gratuitously---or perhaps they suffered from the hippie-oid delusion that they were also in some sense Black and so entitled).


And S. Zielinski's [C ]programmer's version, which is 0-based instead of 1-based (0,1,2,3).

#7 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2005, 02:55 PM:

On the subject of Dear Johns: I never knew that there was a military history in these letters, because I only knew them in the context of Mormon missionaries. Zealous Mormon girls would swear to be true and "wait" for their boy for two whole years. Needless to say, the percentage that lasted was very small. (It might have been longer in generations before mine, but I have no idea. I did read some article that fetishized the girl-who-waits in Especially For Mormons. We were supposed to only seriously date returned missionaries, so what better way to nail down your future returned missionary than wait for him.)

When I was in my first year of college, we used to write Dear Johns to our male friends serving Mormon missions. Multiple Dear Johns, in fact, despite the fact that we weren't even their girlfriends. We figured it was part of our duty to make sure our male friends that had no girlfriends to perform the Dear John still got to take part of the quintessential mission experience. They usually got a huge kick out this, since it turned out there were bets to see who got the first Dear John in their districts, and reportedly our letters were read around the tables of the Missionary Training Center cafeteria. Some of their companions even solicited the Dear John letter as well. Some of them got downright creative in writing back, and one fellow threatened to kill himself in seven different ways simultaneously if his "love" was not requited.

(Note: We never Dear Johned anybody who might have taken it seriously. We aren't that cruel.)

#8 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2005, 02:58 PM:

I've heard the following words as a jody:

Nam myoho renge kyo!
Om mane padme hum!
Nam myoho renge kyo!
Om mane padme hum!
Sound off! Ha-re!
Sound off! Krish-na!
Bring it on down, Ha-re Krish-na!
There was some kind of tag, I don't remember what.

#9 ::: Carlos ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2005, 02:58 PM:

An aside: David "The Big Con" Maurer thought the original "Jody" came from "Oolong the Chinese Grind-boy" or "Chinese Joe the Grinder", the Chinese guy who stepped in on the gf when her man was in prison.

Might be 1898 or old China hand related (Maurer opines), or possibly opium (my guess, but it's not like Maurer didn't know opium slang).

And hey, I beat John M. Ford to it!

#10 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2005, 03:20 PM:

Got me curious but not curious enough to go research it -- hey, I'm trying to be virtuous and do some work here! But what's the divorce rate for women in the military who leave husbands at home? Higher or lower? Are "Dear Jane" letters a similarly widespread phenomenon?

PiscusFische, that's hilarious...

#11 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2005, 03:21 PM:

I suspect that the war will make it worse.

Nine months at sea, it's not necessarily safe, but there isn't the stress of people actively trying to kill you.

It took my grandfather, so my father tells me, most of the 1920s to get over being in a war.

And there are soldiers going back already.

#12 ::: Michelle ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2005, 03:32 PM:

Got me curious but not curious enough to go research it -- hey, I'm trying to be virtuous and do some work here! But what's the divorce rate for women in the military who leave husbands at home? Higher or lower? Are "Dear Jane" letters a similarly widespread phenomenon?

I dunno about the divorce rate probably the same, but the letters probably lower, men just tend to leave without a note.

Yes, I'm bitter.

#13 ::: Michelle K ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2005, 04:16 PM:

I have a cousin in the Army who has recently gotten divorced. Since 2000 he's been to Bosnia, Afghanistan, North Korea, and Iraq (twice). (He wants out.)

How can someone handle that much stress for that long?

#14 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2005, 04:18 PM:

hmm, but the common prisoner jody is sancho, and he's been in at least one hit song.

#15 ::: Sandy ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2005, 04:32 PM:

". . .one fellow threatened to kill himself in seven different ways simultaneously if his 'love' was not requited. "

I can come up with four. . .no, five.

This relies on careful balance, such that the flaming guillotine, once the weight of my head is removed, tips off the edge of the cliff or building in question.

#16 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2005, 05:15 PM:

A friend was in the army both before and after the WAC came to an end in 1978. Many jodies were officially "discarded" at that time, as they were deemed too offensive for mixed units to use. She notes with some pride that in many cases the ones the women were using were considered even more offensive than the ones the men had been using.

As for the real point of the original post; the US Army has been a garrison force for a long time now. Garrison forces can afford the luxuries of spouses and families. For the past several years, the US Army has been used far more as an expeditionary force, and expeditionary forces seem, in the minds of many planners, to exist in a sort of vacuum, without inconvenient attachments and distractions. I could, at this point, suggest that the neocons responsible for so much American foreign policy have perhaps confused the American miltary with the Roman legions or perhaps the French Foreign Legion, but working up a good snark takes more energy then I have to spare at present.

#17 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2005, 05:16 PM:

Michelle K: How can someone handle that much stress for that long?

By reframing what "normal" is, and finding adaptive behaviors. And burning out adrenals and getting bleeding ulcers.

One vet told me he quickly learned to spot "canaries"--people who were unusually sensitive to coming trouble--and watch them. When they were relaxed, he relaxed. When they were jittery, he'd get stressed.

#18 ::: Elspeth Kovar ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2005, 06:49 PM:

"A more plausible source was suggested by Dick Kovar, in a pre-World War Two radio programme called Dear John . . ."

It's an interesting world where, while perusing a webpage, I come across something my father said on another.

#19 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2005, 07:02 PM:

Jim, I wonder if the Army has the support web for spouses that the Navy has.

Dave Bell, what do you think the torpedos, bombs, and missiles are trying to do?

#20 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2005, 08:24 PM:

Marilee, I can tell you that Schofield Barracks has worked pretty hard to form support groups, and the Guard and Reserve out here has tried to do the same.

It's an odd turn of events when the Army (one year) is gone for longer deployments than the Marines (seven months). The old WestPac cruises were indeed nine months; sub cruises were six months afloat and six ashore.

#21 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2005, 01:27 AM:

Marilee, the Navy has a history of long deployments without actual combat.

There's always the sea, and the Cold War meant that the possibility of was was lurking, but it wasn't the same as Iraq. It's not lurking possibilities of war, it's a shooting war in progress.

#22 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2005, 02:10 AM:

I could, at this point, suggest that the neocons responsible for so much American foreign policy have perhaps confused the American miltary with the Roman legions or perhaps the French Foreign Legion, but working up a good snark takes more energy then I have to spare at present.

Myself I found quite persuasive Dr. Pournelle saying the army should stay home (Send the Marines if anybody but better nobody) but if this country is to be an empire we should indeed emulate the Legions and that means getting foreign levies and mercenaries (FFL) to do the actual bleeding - the Legion exists to intimidate after the manner of the British Raj. And beware the fury of the legions if.....

I could once have introduced you to a strong singer who got quite a dressing down for running his men through family quarters changing his accustomed route but not his song - as I recall the songs were quite popular on college campuses in the late 40's early 50's cleaned up for homecoming skits with a nod and a wink to the audience.

As for the Navy remember Mr. Roberts? and what happened to Thomas Heggen? There are a few boats still on patrol too.

#23 ::: Giacomo ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2005, 06:54 AM:

Excuse me for taking this cheap shot, but someone has to...

How come "family-first" political parties are always the ones supporting any kind of war? I suppose it's "MY family first... then, maybe, our servicemen's".

#24 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2005, 09:08 AM:

Adultery is (or, at least, can be) much less of an issue for separated spouses when the couple has an open marriage.

Of course, to have an open relationship, it helps a whole lot to be (reasonably) adult. And, as noted above, a lot of the military marriages that fall apart or explode over adultery are, essentially, between teenagers.

Here's a link to an interesting discussion thread about open marriage and the military I came across.

(Personal note: I've known a number of people over the years who've had open marriages. Some go along forever with no problems. I've watched others explode in very, very ugly ways. So I'm not prescribing open marriage as a panacea. It can be difficult, and risky.)

#25 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2005, 11:13 AM:

The origin of Don't Ask, Don't Tell:

It's how to keep happy marriages happy through deployments.

#26 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2005, 12:35 PM:

Giacomo: because their family values include "how to not get sent to war by using your family connections", perhaps?

I'm an Army brat. When I was born, it was near my grandparents' home, because my father was stationed in Korea; I got to be the "man of the house" for a year at the age of ten (Korea again); I got to spend the night before a final hearing that his new posting had just become an active war zone (SOUTHCOM, Panama, 1989).

Then he retired, so now I get to worry about my brother, instead. His daughter was born while he "attended" by phone from Iraq to Ft. Bragg; I saw her before he did.

What was that about blocking same-sex marriage because a child needs "a mommy and a daddy"?

#27 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2005, 02:23 PM:

Then too not within sight of the flag pole can help an awful lot.

#28 ::: Jeff Porten ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2005, 02:56 AM:

Question for Jim or anyone else who knows: I thought REMF only applied to military desk men. Jim's close implies that civilians can qualify as well?

#29 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2005, 08:52 AM:

REMF (Rear Echelon MotherF*cker) is usually support staff and people who stayed home. Maybe POG would have been better (Person Other than Grunt). Dunno.

#30 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2005, 09:58 AM:

". . .one fellow threatened to kill himself in seven different ways simultaneously if his 'love' was not requited. "

I can come up with four. . .no, five.

Razors, rivers, acids, drugs, guns, nooses, gas.

#31 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2005, 10:04 AM:

oopsie - this bit of the above post: I can come up with four. . .no, five. is a quote from Sandy. I put my itals in the wrong place, which makes it look like I can't count.

#32 ::: Terry.karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2005, 10:07 AM:

Marilee:

Being in the service means accepting that you have agreed to let other people try to kill you.

But Russians having guns is not the same as those same Russians shooting them at me.

On adjusting:

I've been back for two years now (I just passed the anniversary of my leaving theatre, the 21st of June is a glorious day).

Last night Maia woke me up (sleeping the sleep of the jet-lagged) badly, and I kicked the person below me on the couch. I'm mostly adjusted back to being home, but I have moments (the styrofoam cup I didn't think about, merely noted afterwards that I'd avoided while driving down the street) when I am not quite right (in the context of being a civilian).

REMF is anyone further back than you are.

TK

#33 ::: Michael Turyn ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2005, 11:15 AM:

Therefore, to someone on point, the entire world consists of enemies and REMFs, конечно?

#34 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2005, 11:24 AM:

Jim:

The origin of Don't Ask, Don't Tell:
It's how to keep happy marriages happy through deployments.
Then Clark:
Then too not within sight of the flag pole can help an awful lot.
Well, I had some punnish (and admittedly racy) commentaries on these two posts taken together, but everything I said was "denied for questionable content." It wasn't any specific word, either. The language was clean. Oh well.

#35 ::: Sandy ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2005, 03:59 PM:

I thought the key word there was "simultaneously."

Five is easy, if you can get a good poisonous venomous snake.

#36 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2005, 10:39 PM:

I thought the key word there was "simultaneously."

No problem! Tie a noose from a tree branch over a river, but make sure the rope is really long. Park your car nearby with the exhaust blowing in your general direction; down some slow-acting pills. Hop onto a horse that's standing in the river, put the noose around your neck. After making sure that the horse is wearing protective waders, dump an enormous vat of acid into the river. With a straight razor in one hand and a gun in the other, have at yourself; the noise from the gun will scare the horse, causing it to run off and leave you to hang, with your head underwater thanks to the extra-long rope.

Of course, it might take some practice to get it right.

#37 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2005, 10:49 PM:

Sandy said:
I thought the key word there was "simultaneously."

That can be done with razors, rivers, acids, drugs, guns, nooses, and gas.

You put razor blades in the noose, turn on the gas and take a lethal drug, then set up the acid to spill on you and eat through the rope once you step off the platform and tighten the noose. The rope burning through sets off a gun, which shoots you as you fall into the river.

Not that that's what Dorothy Parker had in mind, exactly.

(Composed this as Mary was writing hers - I think her horse adds a nice Rube Goldberg touch that my scenario is missing.)

#38 ::: Michael Turyn ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2005, 11:28 PM:

My Depression-raised parents instilled in my inward places a compulsion to economise and improvise; as such, I rebuke ye slackards, for failing to notice that you can make the noose out of a sufficiently long poisonous snake---the only trick is to keep it from striking until the Crucial Moment.

#39 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2005, 12:27 AM:

That can be done with razors, rivers, acids, drugs, guns, nooses, and gas.

Extra credit if you can determine how to hang yourself with both belt and braces. Separately.

There's probably a Rube Goldberg parody in this ("Tuning fork C shatters glass D, showering determined perpetrator A with fragments, one of which severs rope E, releasing brakes on steamroller F. . .")

#40 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2005, 12:27 AM:

And who could forget

Bart: I got a B in arithmetic.
Army: I got a B in arithmetic.
Bart: Would have got an A but I was sick.
Army: Would have got an A but I was sick.

Bart: We are rubber, you are glue.
Army: We are rubber, you are glue.
Bart: It bounces off of us and sticks to you.
Army: It bounces off of us and sticks to you.
Bart: Sound off.
Army: One! Two!
Bart: Sound off!
Army: Three!! Four!!

Bart: In English class I did the best.
Army: In English class I did the best.
Bart: Because I cheated on the test.
Army: Because I cheated on the test.
Bart: Sound off.
Army: One! Two!
Bart: I can't hear you!
Army: Three!! Four!!

Bart: We are happy, we are merry.
Army: We are happy, we are merry.
Bart: We got a rhyming dictionary.
Army: We got a rhyming dictionary.
Bart: Sound off.
Army: One! Two!
Bart: One more time!
Army: Three! Four!
Bart: Bring it on home now!
Army: One! Two! Three! Four!
One! Two! ... Three-Four!

#41 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2005, 07:31 AM:

Michael Turyn: My Depression-raised parents instilled in my inward places a compulsion to economise and improvise; as such, I rebuke ye slackards, for failing to notice that you can make the noose out of a sufficiently long poisonous snake---the only trick is to keep it from striking until the Crucial Moment.

No, no, no. Do they not teach logistics anymore? The trick is to make sure it strikes you sufficiently in advance of the Crucial Moment that the effects of the venom are fatal at just the right time. Obviously, some experience in herpetology is necessary for correct identification of the snake, else the timing will be off.

#42 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2005, 08:14 AM:

A coral snake would work well, there--quite deadly, and yet because of their small size they tend to settle for biting hands and feet, so it takes a while for the poison to get to the heart/nervous system. You might want to use two or three, though, just to be sure you got enough venom--as I said, they're small.

#43 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2005, 09:12 AM:

Or perhaps a krait, if one is in India. Possible extra points while drowning oneself -- eating pufferfish or stepping on stonefish.

Which of course leads to the Preparing a Tasty Deadly Dinner discussion -- various mushrooms, fugu and ... there must be more!

#44 ::: Michael Turyn ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2005, 09:20 AM:

I was going to quibble about exactly when you would have "committed" suicide---is it when you die, or when you do something which, if you're left unaided will kill you...or when you commit yourself to such a course?---when I shied back because I didn't want to further derail (more than I'd helped do) a serious discussion of the trouble and pain endured by separated military families.

Then I remembered that this whole thread started with Jodies and Dear Johns, so this is a generally military thread. And I also thought, "Isn't the question of just when one has actually _committed_ suicide immediately relevant to our national military policy of the past few years?"

I'm partisan and biased and cynical and tired, so with luck my flip answer to that question, "November, 2004," is wrong.

(And, yes, I have considered that you've "committed" suicide the moment you can't do a rollback of it.)

#45 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2005, 09:40 AM:

And remember that suicide is the only offense one can only be prosecuted for failing to commit.

#46 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2005, 10:51 AM:

JMF: Well, that's true today. Suicide was punishable in ancient times by dispossession of the heirs...an effective deterrent to some financially-driven suicides, I should think.

#47 ::: Mary Aileen Buss ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2005, 11:53 AM:

And remember that suicide is the only offense one can only be prosecuted for failing to commit.

What about attempted murder?

#48 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2005, 12:23 PM:

Attempted robbery? Attempted assault and battery?

#49 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2005, 02:39 PM:

Greatly enjoyed premiere of Bochco series last night on FX: "Over There." First TV series about a war -- during the war? Others saw it, want to comment?

#50 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2005, 03:30 PM:

Mary & Aconite: Take a closer look at the second only in that phrase.

Peter Cook as the Devil in Bedazzled: "Attempted suicide is a crime, you know. In a less enlightened time, they'd have hung you for it."

#51 ::: Sandy ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2005, 03:43 PM:

I'm torn between admiring the exact parallelism and nitpicking details, like "can a noose which does not hold one up be said to strangle you, especially if one is underwater?"

Beating seven is hard. . . I can tie it, though, with the Rasputin Finale:

1. Poisoned tea .
2. shot -in the "takes time to die" sense, the liver or something
3. Stabbed - again, slashed wrists or something else slow.
4. bludgeoned- I'm imagining stepping into the path of a 20-pound bowling ball pendulum, which would result in
5. falling two stories from a balcony. There would need to be some sort of cart at the bottom, rolling downhill to a freezing river in order to finish with
6. frozen and
7. drowned.

#52 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2005, 03:58 PM:

Clifton: I now see what you mean--attempted burglary is not the same crime as burglary, yes? Thanks for the pointer. My head was full of oatmeal this morning.

#53 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2005, 04:17 PM:

I wonder about whether there's a correlation between Dear John letters and soldier suicides in Iraq (rather than suddenly being exposed to the other horrors of war).

#54 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2005, 06:00 PM:

I can't remember all seven that Elder K had in his letter, but I know that a really long extension cord and a toaster were involved. And sharks. And a rather Rube Goldbergian sort of sequence of events. But you're probably right that technically they can't be all simultaneous.

#55 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2005, 06:02 PM:

And remember that suicide is the only offense one can only be prosecuted for failing to commit.

What about attempted murder?

Nope. You can't be punished for failing to commit attempted murder.

#56 ::: Mary Aileen Buss ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2005, 06:18 PM:

Clifton: You are absolutely correct. I thought afterwards that his statement needed a second 'only' to be true, and by jings it has one!

--Mary Aileen (not 'Mary', please--I have to remember to sign these)

#57 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2005, 06:55 PM:

"Simultaneous? Ve don't need no steenkeen simulaneous..." -- Albert Einstein

On another matter, I've had several discussions with attorneys on this, and frankly don't recall the convoluted reasoning. But. In some jurisdictions, suicide is a felony. In some of those, failure to try to stop a felony is a misdemeanor. So, in theory, it can be a crime to not stop an attempted suicide.

Slippery slope here is defined by the final episode of The Seinfeld Show.

#58 ::: Michael Turyn ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2005, 08:05 AM:

One of the sole two Legion marching songs my father mentioned to me had the memorable lines

France is your mother!
The Legion is your father!
It is he who feeds you on beans and rotten pork!
Thinking of this, it suddenly seemed that the title of this thread is very apt: we might tend to focus on Jody, but the point of the song is, "We are your only real possible life now," a useful proposition if the life in question is dangerous and hard.

#59 ::: Cadbury Moose sees linkspam on ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2010, 06:02 AM:

Can we have a "nuke & pave" operation on the "seubnubed" linkspammer, please? S/He/IT has hit at least three threads with the same garbage generator.

Thankee!

#60 ::: Dave Luckett sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2011, 06:22 AM:

Straightforward garbage.

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