Quote of the Day: Orders

 

“Never give an order you know won’t be obeyed.” — Advice given to officer trainees by senior officers

I know I heard some variant of that when I was in ROTC back in the 1970s. Back then, it was advice rooted in practicality and even self-preservation. US troops in Vietnam were disregarding orders, and occasionally avoiding the consequences of disobeying orders by “fragging” the officer who gave the order to ensure no charges would be pressed. “Did we disobey the butterbar, Captain? Of course not. Didn’t hear no order, and I’m sure the second looie would tell that himself if he hadn’t dropped that grenade in his tent. Ya know captain, he struck me as suicidal, but we don’t want his family burdened with that. Let’s just tell them it was an accident. Right, guys?” (And everyone else agrees.)

The real reason officers don’t give orders they know won’t be obeyed, is because once you do, and it is disobeyed, it is mutiny, and all discipline goes out the window. Truly mutinous troops literally have no more to lose. And generally, there are a lot more soldiers than officers. It gets ugly really quick.

Better to give an order that will be followed and get them into the habit of obeying again before pushing them back to the line they would not cross earlier. Unless you have enough force behind you to make examples of the mutinying soldiers or sailors.  Good officers dislike resorting to that because it is a failure of leadership.

This rule applies double when dealing with civilians, especially civilians in the United States and Canada. They have no particular obligation to obey orders given by government officials (including police) except under strictly limited circumstances. They do not have to blindly follow orders given by such people. We are not subjects, we are free citizens.

A county or city employee (including officers of the law) cannot arbitrarily come to my home, order me to vacate it, and turn it over to the government.  They have to show cause. At a minimum, I would require a warrant before allowing them access to my property. If they provide a compelling reason (“there is a gas leak 100 yards from your house”) they can persuade me to comply. Absent a court order, they cannot compel compliance.

Even then, they cannot compel compliance. In a country like the US or Canada, laws are obeyed because citizens choose to obey them. If the majority of citizens — or even a sizable minority — choose to ignore a law, it becomes unenforceable. At which point government officials learn the limitations of their orders.

We are seeing that illustrated by the various truckers’ blockades in Canada. The truckers and their supporters have chosen to disobey the law, nonviolently. As long as they continue to do so nonviolently, it will be impossible to prevent them, no matter what orders are given.

The Ambassador Bridge blockade is an illustration. It had been closed for several days. The protestors were told to leave. They remained. Those wanting the bridge opened went to court. They got a court order demanding the bridge be vacated. The protestors remained. They were given a deadline to leave. They ignored it. They were given a new deadline. They ignored that. Finally, on Sunday the police persuaded the last of the rigs on the bridge to leave. Game over, right?

Well, no. Today thousands of pedestrians came out and blocked the roads leading to the bridge. The bridge is still closed. The police clear the pedestrians out of one place and they move to another. The bridge remains closed. Possibly, by force of effort, the police clear a path to the bridge.

So tomorrow, trucks start crossing the bridge. As they are crossing, one breaks down. It’s just a breakdown, officers, honest. Guess we will have to tow it. But all the truck wreckers are unavailable. The drivers are all out with Covid. Or something. Eventually, the truck gets moved.  A few hours later another truck breaks down. The circus repeats itself until the cops lose patience.

Traffic starts flowing again. The police go away. (Probably to break up other blockades.) Pedestrian protestors again block the roads. Rinse, lather, repeat.

Because ultimately the rule of law is what the citizens say it is.

But, you say, what about the $100,000 fines and one year in prison Chancellor Ford is threatening. Get real. No one is going to get fined $100,000 (even in Canadian money) for peacefully standing on a road. Criminal mischief, maybe — a misdemeanor with a $1,500 (CD) fine. If that. They will have trouble even getting that if these go to jury trials. Citizens make up those juries. Ultimately the rule of law is what the citizens say it is.

These cases are not going to be decided by lawyers (despite what lawyers think), the laptop class, and the gentry class — unless they are tried as petty misdemeanors. They will be decided by average Canadians sitting on the juries, the very people the gentry and laptop classes have been dumping on for the last two years.

And who knows, having tasted once of freedom the average Canadians may decide they like the taste. Because ultimately the rule of law is what the citizens say it is. And the rulers, by issuing orders they knew would not be obeyed, will find themselves outside that new rule of law.

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There are 21 comments.

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  1. Vince Guerra Member
    Vince Guerra
    @VinceGuerra

    Resist. Win. Repeat. 

    • #1
  2. Vince Guerra Member
    Vince Guerra
    @VinceGuerra

    Seawriter:

    Never give an order you know won’t be obeyed – Advice given to officer trainees by senior officers

    This applies to parenting as well.

    • #2
  3. kedavis Inactive
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Maybe the Canadian government is ready to abolish the Canadian people, and elect a new one?

    • #3
  4. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    Vince Guerra (View Comment):

    Seawriter:

    Never give an order you know won’t be obeyed – Advice given to officer trainees by senior officers

    This applies to parenting as well.

    I applied it when raising my three. Was glad I learned it in officer training.

    • #4
  5. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Love it, Seawriter. I’m amazed at how persistent all the participants are–on both sides! Go Truckers and Pedestrians!

    • #5
  6. Fritz Coolidge
    Fritz
    @Fritz

    For the life of me, I just cannot see why the Canadian government won’t just lift the frickin’ mandate and allow the truckers to resume making a living.

    Yeah, I know all about how power once grabbed is hard to give up, but the pandemic is OVER. A tiny soupcon of common sense would have these bridges cleared in a matter of hours.

     

    • #6
  7. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    Fritz (View Comment):

    For the life of me, I just cannot see why the Canadian government won’t just lift the frickin’ mandate and allow the truckers to resume making a living.

    Yeah, I know all about how power once grabbed is hard to give up, but the pandemic is OVER. A tiny soupcon of common sense would have these bridges cleared in a matter of hours.

    There you go again, assuming the gentry class has a soupcon of common sense. 

    Basically the ruling elite has been in charge for so long they have forgotten something like accountability exists. They believe they are the chosen in a dystopian fantasy (like Hunger Games) and people have no choice but to do what they are commanded to do. They are completely unmoored from reality. 

    • #7
  8. Chuck Thatcher
    Chuck
    @Chuckles

    Fritz (View Comment):

    For the life of me, I just cannot see why the Canadian government won’t just lift the frickin’ mandate and allow the truckers to resume making a living.

    Yeah, I know all about how power once grabbed is hard to give up, but the pandemic is OVER. A tiny soupcon of common sense would have these bridges cleared in a matter of hours.

     

    Seems like I read a reason why the government won’t give in somewhere…oh, yeah: Went something like this, “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

    • #8
  9. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    I predict at some point, trucks will be stopping food into cities all over north America. 

    Because violence is coming. They will go door to door to disarm us.

    • #9
  10. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    • #10
  11. Fritz Coolidge
    Fritz
    @Fritz

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Fritz (View Comment):

    For the life of me, I just cannot see why the Canadian government won’t just lift the frickin’ mandate and allow the truckers to resume making a living.

    Yeah, I know all about how power once grabbed is hard to give up, but the pandemic is OVER. A tiny soupcon of common sense would have these bridges cleared in a matter of hours.

    There you go again, assuming the gentry class has a soupcon of common sense.

    Basically the ruling elite has been in charge for so long they have forgotten something like accountability exists. They believe they are the chosen in a dystopian fantasy (like Hunger Games) and people have no choice but to do what they are commanded to do. They are completely unmoored from reality.

    Yeah, I’m silly like that. But I do think that reality has a way of coming along and whacking someone upside the head, you know, that moment they go “D’oh!”.  Sooner or later, that will occur. Would prefer it to be peaceable.

    • #11
  12. navyjag Coolidge
    navyjag
    @navyjag

    Good one SeaW.  You must have been Army or Marine ROTC. Don’t remember getting this lesson in NRTOC.  But after reading The Matterhorn you got it right. 

    • #12
  13. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    I’m confused.  Are we praising the practice of “fragging” now, or am I misinterpreting these comments?

    • #13
  14. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    I’m confused. Are we praising the practice of “fragging” now, or am I misinterpreting these comments?

    No, it’s not what you think.  But I misread it, too.  I thought they were talking about fregula.  And I thought why would they toss a delicious Italian pasta on a lieutenant?

    Fregula | Local Pasta Variety From Sardinia, Italy | TasteAtlas

    • #14
  15. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    navyjag (View Comment):

    Good one SeaW. You must have been Army or Marine ROTC. Don’t remember getting this lesson in NRTOC. But after reading The Matterhorn you got it right.

    I heard it in Army ROTC. By a then major who was relating experiences from the Vietnam War. 

    • #15
  16. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    I’m confused. Are we praising the practice of “fragging” now, or am I misinterpreting these comments?

    Clearly you are misinterpreting them.

    Also, weren’t you leaving? What was that whole big post about, anyway? 

    • #16
  17. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    I’m confused. Are we praising the practice of “fragging” now, or am I misinterpreting these comments?

    You seem to be confused frequently recently. Certainly you are if you are conflating reporting of an incident with approval of it.  As I recall the Catalan Oath of Allegiance confused you, too. So did the difference between Antifa and the Canadian truckers. But you be you. 

    • #17
  18. Al Sparks Thatcher
    Al Sparks
    @AlSparks

    The way this gets resolved is by some sort face saving.  That may have occurred with the end of the blockade at Windsor, ON.  First, Trudeau wasn’t directly involved, the provincial premier was instead.

    In Ottawa, the truckers have agreed to remove themselves from residential areas, making a deal with the mayor there.

    There’s now some room for Trudeau to relent.  He hasn’t shown himself to be very bright throughout this crisis, only making it worse.  So it’s hard to say whether he’ll take the hint.

    • #18
  19. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Flicker (View Comment):
    And I thought why would they toss a delicious Italian pasta on a lieutenant?

    Why would they need a reason?

    • #19
  20. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):
    And I thought why would they toss a delicious Italian pasta on a lieutenant?

    Why would they need a reason?

    Well, he’s American.  That calls for apple pie.

    • #20
  21. She Member
    She
    @She

    This is the Quote of the Day. February’s sign-up sheet is here. Please sign up today!

    If you’re new at this game, it’s a easy way to get your feet wet and start a conversation; if you’re an old-timer, you already know the ropes. Either way, please sign up to speak up.

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    • #21
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