Here’s a controversy.
West Virginia Governor Jim Justice has okay’d a proposal to fire more than 30 correctional officer trainees after the surfacing of an eyebrow-raising photo.
Distributed within graduation materials for the Basic Training Class 18, the picture features cadets engaging in a Nazi salute.
Jim commented via a press release:
“As I said from the beginning, I condemn the photo of Basic Training Class 18 in the strongest possible terms. I also said that this act needed to result in real consequences — terminations and dismissals. This kind of behavior will not be tolerated on my watch in any agency of State government.”
But the salute wasn’t meant to be incendiary. As it appears, it was a joke:
As reported by The Daily Wire, the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, Division of Corrections determined that “the hand gesture was found to have started in the second or third week of the Academy session as one that the cadets have described as a ‘sign of respect’ for [the instructor, Karrie Byrd]. The gesture was started by one of the class members, and other class members began using it as well.”
According to the investigation, Karrie encouraged the salute. She “reveled in it, and at times reciprocated the gesture.”
Allegedly, the instructor told a secretary the idea of the salute was that she’s “a hard-a** like Hitler.”
Also, as stated by TDW:
Byrd, who feigned ignorance about the meaning of the salute and was fired in December, was explicitly told about the connotations by other corrections officers, according to investigators.
Strangely, among others, Karrie taught Cultural Diversity.
She directed the photo and even had them retake it when someone didn’t participate.
According to the report, 10 trainees told investigators that they feared they wouldn’t graduate unless they obeyed Byrd’s order. A total of seven trainees refused to make the salute even after Byrd told them to do so, but held up a closed fist “in order to comply with Byrd’s direction but not make the gesture,” says the report. In the picture, six people can be seen holding up a fist.
So why is everyone being fired?
As per the report, investigators didn’t find any “overt motivation or intent that [the gesture] was a discriminatory act towards any racial, religious, or ethnic group. Rather, contributing factors included poor judgment, ignorance, peer pressure, and fear of reprisal.”
Putting a Nazi salute in graduation materials seems, to me, epically idiotic. Everyone should’ve known better, given the circumstances.
But is it also stupid to take the gesture as anything other than what it apparently was — a joke?
Is the humorous intent of the gesture enough reason to hold on to the cadets at least, letting them pass with a stern admonition? Or is the joke too incendiary to keep anyone involved on board?
I look forward to hearing from you on this.
I absolutely understand firing the instructor for instigating the whole thing and allowing the photo into graduation materials. But the cadets, too? If they were doing as instructed?
Politically, I understand the move. It reflects very poorly on the state. And it’s tarnished everyone in the photo. But I feel slightly sorry for the guys who felt pressured into it and had no say in the distribution of the image after the fact.
I don’t endorse anyone doing what they did with the gesture. That being said, sometimes, I look around at the news and think I’m missing the Outrage gene.
What’s your genetic profile on this?
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