So how many times have you watched this video today?

I could listen to people repeating these sentiments across all institutions day after day after day after day.

From the AustralianArmyHQ channel on YouTube: Chief of Army message regarding unacceptable behaviour

Message from the Chief of Army, Lieutenant General David Morrison, AO, to the Australian Army following the announcement on Thursday, 13 June 2013 of civilian police and Defence investigations into allegations of unacceptable behaviour by Army members.

Partial transcript (h/t Rebecca Watson on Skepchick):

I have stated categorically many times that the army has to be an inclusive organization where every soldier, man and woman is able to reach their full potential and is encouraged to do so. Those who think that it is okay to behave in a way that demeans or exploits their colleagues have no place in this army.

Our service has been engaged in continuous operation since 1999 and in its longest war ever in Afghanistan. On all operations, female soldiers and officers have proven themselves worthy of the best traditions of the Australian army. They are vital to us maintaining our capability now and into the future. If that does not suit you, then get out. You may find another employer where your attitude and behavior is acceptable, but I doubt it. The same goes for those who think that toughness is built on humiliating others. Every one of us is responsible for the culture and reputation of our army and the environment in which we work.

If you become aware of any individual degrading another, then show moral courage and take a stand against it. No one has ever explained to me how the exploitation or degradation of others enhances capability or honors the traditions of the Australian army. I will be ruthless in ridding the army of people who cannot live up to its values and I need every one of you to support me in achieving this.

The standard you walk past is the standard you accept. That goes for all of us, but especially those who by their rank have a leadership role.

Today Lieutenant General David Morrison said these words regarding the exploitation and degradation of women by their fellow soldiers, but the principle applies equally to marginalised groups being exploited and degraded by their peers in all areas of society. What standards are our leaders walking past? Where is their moral courage? How can we make them stand against low standards instead?

Categories: culture wars, ethics & philosophy, social justice

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6 replies

  1. Love this video. It reads as sincere and goes a lot further than the reluctant fauxpology we could have got.
    Although I am Australian I first saw it on American atheist blogs (Pharyngula and Skepchick) where it was held up as an example of how the US atheism movement should be dealing with their own misogyny problem.

  2. Four times so far.
    Quite apart from the content it’s an amazing piece of political speech and as someone with more than a passing interest it’s just compelling. If I could write or deliver a speech a fraction as powerful as that I’d die happy.

  3. A friend of mine posted this on Facebook, which is where I originally found it. Given the similar severe morale issues due to ongoing systemic discrimination and prejudice against women in the military in the US, I would LOVE to see a US General stating something even remotely similar.
    Y’all are lucky there, down under.

  4. Twice. Once when I found it on Shakesville and again when I showed my husband. I’ll be watching it again I’m sure. I must admit, I swelled with pride a little. I’m not sure what the emotion is called but there’s a taste in your mouth that goes with excellent speeches, something that makes me lean in. Is there even a German word for it? 😉

  5. Hmm.
    I like the sentiments and am heartened by the passion.
    But am a little cynical. No mention of the fact that the armed forces have traditionally been a deeply sexist, if not misogynist, set of institutions. No mention of the fact that brutalism and brutishness have long been part of how they “made” the men. No mention of the fact these existed up to and including the extremely recent past. No acknowledgment of the fact that those who have done us proud in the past (I forget his exact phrase) were part of those traditions – as, more than likely, are some of those currently (apparently) “doing us proud”. No acknowledgment of how history affects the present. No acknowledgment of the fact that the armed forces he (and all of us) would like to believe in will have to be a product of a change in culture. No acknowledgment that such change is really bloody difficult.
    Without any of that, I’m skeptical.
    That said, this speech is an astonishingly fantastic first step in the required cultural change.

  6. A little while ago a quote did the rounds from Kelley Temple, women’s officer for the UK National Union of Students (and some-one I know personally) – “Men who want to be feminists do not need to be given a space in feminism. They need to take the space they have in society & make it feminist.”
    I think this is the best example of a man doing that I have ever seen.

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