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November 01, 2006
"The Unit" Rocks

I've TIVOed CBS's The Unit from Day 1 — Dennis Haysbert is just too cool — though to be honest I can do without the entirety of the wife-driven soap-opera half of the show. But I intend to continue watching, because of scenes like what follows, from last night's episode.

The wife of one of the unit's sergeants, having encountered protesters at the gate of the base earlier in the day and taken some of their literature, enters a thinly populated lecture hall. We have been led to suppose that it might just be possible she's interested in joining the protest movement. She's had her issues with the military in the past.

An unshaven professorish guy is lecturing in front of a sign reading "THE COST OF ARROGANCE IS PAID IN BLOOD." What appear to be slogans are written on the whiteboard behind the lecturer. If he had shaved, he'd look like a lawyer, but the stubble marks him as a rebel. With tenure, no doubt. She starts making her way into the hall.

Professor Dude: "Conflict resolution teaches us that nothing can be resolved unless and until each side recognizes the absolute right of the other side to a point of view. Now — [notices Army Wife] thank you for coming — in international relations, as in childrearing, two children will fight. What is the first thing one must do? First thing. Christine?"

Christine, who appears to have attended junior college for an AA degree in Pissing Me Right The Hell Off, answers: "Make them stop hitting."

Professor Dude: "Well, that is correct. Now, war — [Army Wife, who hasn't even had a seat yet, signals that she has a question] Yes?"

Army Wife: "No conflict can be resolved unless and until each side recognizes the absolute right of the other..."

Professor Dude: "That's right..."

Army Wife: "... to..."

Professor Dude: "To their point of view."

Army Wife: [pause] "What about Hitler?"

Professor Dude: [pause] "Anybody?"

Christine: "The Versailles Treaty?"

Professor Dude: "Excellent, excellent. Had the Versailles Treaty dealt fairly with a defeated Germany at the end of World War One, could the German public ever have been receptive to the Nazi program? Now... [Army Wife, still standing raises her hand] Yes?"

Army Wife: "What about 9-11? Three thousand people died. Should we have recognized the terrorists' right to kill those people?"

Christine, PMRTHO, smug, condescending: "But those people had a grievance."

Army Wife. "Yes, I know they had a grievance. But that doesn't mean that they were right.

Christine, PMRTHO, stupid: "Sufficient that they were willing to kill their children."

Army Wife: "Yeah, well you know what? I don't mind them killing their children. I object to their killing my children. Somebody thinks I offended him, I suppose he can give me a call. He comes into my house in the middle of the night with a butcher knife, I'm gonna shoot him dead, because I have a family to defend. Is this so foreign from your way of thinking?"

Christine, attaining a new level of P'ing MRTHO: "The Bible says 'thou shalt not kill.'" [This always steams me, because what the Hebrew actually says is "you shall not murder." Big difference.]

Army Wife: "Yeah, well, I guess our opponents missed that part."

Professor Dude: [thinking he's grown a pair] "Whose side are you on?"

Army Wife: [disabusing him of the notion] "I'm on the American side."

Professor Dude: "Didn't I see you at the peace protest?"

Army Wife: "Well, yeah. I was driving into the base."

Professor Dude: "You work at the base."

Army Wife: "Something like that. And I have something else to say. [referring to the sign] 'The cost of arrogance is paid in blood.' What does that mean? And how can you stand there with your superior wisdom and berate the men and women who have sworn, with their lives, to defend you? Do you scream at firemen when they're going to put out a fire? Do you? Well, there's a fire, people, you're at war, and though it's hard for me to believe, you don't know it."

Christine, continuing to PMRTHO: "You're out of order, and you're in the wrong room."

Army Wife: "What about recognizing the absolute right of the other?" Heh.

Christine, whining, really P'ing MRTHO: "This is a peace meeting."

Army Wife: "Good." [Should make cudgeling then rather easy, then.] "Well. You're willing to fight for peace? Good for you, because that's what the men and women on the base are doing. Good for you. Now, I have a few other remarks."

[scene cuts]


[Later after the lecture, in a hallway. Professor Dude accidentally bumps into Army Wife.]

Professor Dude: "I didn't mean to startle you there."

Army Wife: "That's fine, I can take care of myself."

Professor Dude: "I saw that. You did yourself right proud in there."

Army Wife: "Right proud. Right proud, like us military types might say?"

Professor Dude: "Ma'am, ma'am, you won. What're you complaining about?"

Army Wife: "I won?"

Professor Dude: "I'd say by any objective standards, you won the debate."

Army Wife: "I did?"

Professor Dude: "I'd say you did." [Christine (standing in the hallway — young, dumb, and as yet she has no idea she'll end up years hence an embittered old hag — and who refuses to quit P'ing MRTHO) glares.]

Army Wife: "And how would you characterize that victory? Because you know what? Your leaflet says 'The cost of arrogance is paid in blood,' and I joked about it, but that's true, and..."

Professor Dude: "No, please."

Army Wife: "The arrogance is yours, and the blood is ours."

Professor Dude: "Go on."

Army Wife: "Because I believe it is arrogant to think that if other people just knew how well we thought of ourselves, they'd stop trying to kill us."

Professor Dude: [pause] "Well you give me a moment's pause." [It was way more than a moment.]

Army Wife: "Then I'm glad I came."

Professor Dude: "I'm glad you came too. I am too. Maybe we could continue the debate."

Army Wife: "I don't think so." [She walks away.]

Of course, there being a soap-opera-ish half of the show, she'll no doubt end up putting the moves on Professor Dude at some point. Still, I'm impressed that her speech came out of the mind of someone in Hollywood. It's nice to see some sanity from that quarter.

Posted by Russ at 03:19 AM, November 1, 2006 in TV

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This is O/T, but I trust you WILL keep us informed on how Mycah is doing. Yes??

Posted by: Skul at November 1, 2006 04:05 AM

Absolutely - when there's news. Nothing yet, though.

Posted by: Russ at November 1, 2006 12:09 PM