The incredible pettiness of the powerful

It is one thing that the government has a double-standard when it comes to prosecuting crimes, being extremely lenient with, or even overlooking entirely, the crimes of those with connections in high places while being extremely harsh with those who dare to challenge it. The David Petraeus case has made that abundantly clear.

But they are also extremely petty in the way they treat their perceived enemies, piling on indignities just because they can. Look at what they did with Chelsea Manning whom they threw in jail for 35 years for leaking information that embarrassed them.

Manning was allowed to change her name legally from her male designation at birth – Bradley – in April last year. Even so, army lawyers continue to contest her new identity. Last month the US government filed a formal objection to Manning’s request to be referred to as a woman in all future filings.

In its submission to the court, government lawyers pointedly referred to the soldier as Bradley, and said that “unless directed otherwise by this honourable court, the government intends to refer to [Manning] using masculine pronouns”.

Yes, they refused to accord her the simple dignity of being called by her legal name and the pronoun that she preferred and she actually had to get a court order from the Army Court of Criminal Appeals to get this done.

A court order from the US army court of criminal appeals instructs the military to refer to the soldier in all future official correspondence either using the gender neutral “Private First Class Manning” or employing the feminine pronoun.

As a result, the military is henceforth forbidden from referring to Manning as a man.

The court order marks another advance towards Manning’s goal of gender transition which she has had to fight every step of the way in the face of an intransigent army hierarchy.

There is no possible reason for this kind of petty behavior other than sheer vindictiveness, coupled with animosity towards those who are gender nonconforming.


  1. Pierce R. Butler says

    That last sentence needs either a “not” or a different final verb.

    What the US power structure needs will require a bit more…

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