Francesco Schettino is a name that will linger in ignominious shame with the stench of cowardice and failure all over it. He is the ex-captain of a cruise ship that he drove onto the rocks and the architect of the deaths of passengers he was duty bound to safeguard. That he deserves to be vilified would seem to be a non-controversial idea. But what fun would that be, and so we get pieces like this one in the Guardian.
Schettino will undoubtedly be vilified for his actions – but how many of us can say that we would not have done the same thing?
Well I wouldn't have and I think there are quite a few others here in our little community of sheepdogs who could say the same. The author, a psychologist, is willing to excuse Schettino from the responsibility he volunteered for.
Schettino's actions may seem spineless, but of course that is easy for us to say in the cold light of day.
Schettino's actions were spineless, and that is easy to say, regardless of the time of day. But let's get back to why the doc says should not vilify.
This is why training is so important. Individuals who regularly have to deal with danger need to be trained to cope with instincts of self-preservation. With training, we can learn to recognise and evaluate danger and develop coping strategies. Cruise liners are not supposed to sink so I expect that any training he did have was not one that captured the reality of the unfolding disaster last Friday.
WTF? Really? The idea that a cruise ship captain would not receive extensive training in what to do in the event of a crash is just stunningly, mind-numbingly dense. Is this guy really a PhD? Wow, talk about an academic completely disconnected from reality. What exactly does he think they train cruise ship captains to do, chat up blondes while drinking at the bar?
Given his chance again, I doubt Schettino would have done the same thing.
Well thankfully Schettino will not get another chance to do the same thing. And if they had another chance, I doubt the people he killed would do the same thing again by trusting him to captain their ship. Some jobs are more important because they involve a responsibility for the safety and lives of others. The people who choose these jobs are called sheepdogs and along with that title comes the expectation that they will not abandon ship. Psychology Boy thinks heaping opprobrium on the failure that is ex-captain Schettino is wrong. He fails to understand that vilification serves an important purpose: It provides preemptive peer pressure that can help stop a wobbly spine from falling all the way out.
Our psych rightly references the fight or flight response and of course this comes into play. But there are two reasons vilification serves a valid purpose. First, the fear of it will stop some folks from taking jobs they are not suited for. Second, the fear of losing the respect of peers can provide the resolve necessary to keep a captain on the bridge rather than elbowing women and children out of his way as he scurries to a lifeboat. When neither of those works and an unfit guardian runs from his post, scorn and stigma should follow. Yes it punishes the malefactor, as well it should. It also serves as a warning to those who would follow in his footsteps. No one is forced to take a job where the lives of others ride on their shoulders or to accept the prestige inherent in these positions. So when someone does they should know disgrace will follow if they shirk this responsibility or wilt under pressure.
A dose of that tough love failed to save Schettino from dishonor when he caught a well-deserved earful from a fellow mariner.
He is Gregorio De Falco, 46, the Livorno port authority chief, who was on duty when the Costa Concordia ran aground off the Tuscan island of Giglio.
Outraged by the events unfolding on that fateful night, De Falco yelled to the captain: "Go back aboard, damn it!
But it may still stand as an object lesson for the next guy faced with that life or death decision. So let's join Signore De Falco and give Schettino the vilification he has earned by calling him a gutless weasel whose showboating and cowardice killed innocent people. Enjoy prison, you wretched excuse for a man.
Former Paratrooper and Army Officer, "Blackfive" started this blog upon learning of the valorous sacrifice of a friend that was not reported by the journalist whose life he saved. Email: blackfive AT gmail DOT com
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Mr. Wolf has over 26 years in the Army, Army NG, and USAR. He’s Airborne with 5 years as an NCO, before becoming an officer. Mr. Wolf has had 4 company commands. Signal Corp is his basic branch, and Public Affairs is his functional area. He recently served 22 straight months in Kuwait and Iraq, in Intel, PA, and senior staff of MNF-I. Mr. Wolf is now an IT executive. He is currently working on a book on media and the Iraq war. Functional gearhead.
In Iraq, he received the moniker of Mr. Wolf after the Harvey Kietel character in Pulp Fiction, when "challenges" arose, they called on Mr. Wolf...
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Deebow is a Staff Sergeant and a Military Police Squad Leader in the Army National Guard. In a previous life, he served in the US Navy. He has over 19 years of experience in both the Maritime and Land Warfare; including deployments to Southwest Asia, Thailand, the South Pacific, South America and Egypt. He has served as a Military Police Team Leader and Protective Services Team Leader and he has served on assignments with the US State Department, US Air Force Security Police, US Army Criminal Investigation Division, and the US Drug Enforcement Administration. He recently spent time in Afghanistan working with, training and fighting alongside Afghan Soldiers and is now focused on putting his 4 year Political Science degree to work by writing about foreign policy, military security policy and politics.
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Uber Pig was an Infantryman from late 1991 until early 1996, serving with Second Ranger Battalion, I Corps, and then 25th Infantry Division. At the time, the Army discriminated against enlisted soldiers who wanted use the "Green to Gold" program to become officers, so he left to attend Stanford University. There, he became expert in detecting, avoiding, and surviving L-shaped ambushes, before dropping out to be as entrepreneurial as he could be. He is now the founder of a software startup serving the insurance and construction industries, and splits time between Lake Tahoe, Boonville, and San Francisco, CA.
Uber Pig writes for Blackfive a) because he's the proud brother of an enlisted Civil Affairs Reservist who currently serves in Iraq, b) because he looks unkindly on people who make it harder for the military in general, and for his brother in particular, to succeed at their missions and come home in victory, and c) because the Blackfive readers and commenters help keep him sane.
COB6 spent 24 years in the active duty Army that included 5 combat tours with service in the 1st Ranger Battalion and 1st Special Forces Group . COB6 was enlisted (E-7) and took the OCS route to a commission. COB6 retired a few years back as a field grade Infantry officer.
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