As I Please: The Smith Sex Skype Sorry Saga Thus Far

It seems to me wrong that Smith should be made to apologize for what he did in the heat of the moment after the Army Sex Skype scandal broke. But it seems to me wrong that it was ever a scandal at all, and careers were wrecked because of it.

Consider these two propositions. One, if a soldier in a midnight raid on a village kills two little sisters in their bed on the eve of a family wedding, he is judged to have ‘acted within the guidelines’ and to have committed no crime though lives have been lost and suffers no demotion, nor even a five dollar fine. And, two, if he comes home from the traumas of war and peeks at a female comrade in the shower, and films her at her ablutions, he is drummed out of the army.

So killing  a little girl is okay. But peeping at a female soldier naked is a sacking, shaming, career-ending and suicide-provoking offence, approaching, what, war crime? Is it?

Is it really.

Does anybody truly believe this? Does it not seem disproportionate to eighty percent of this readership? Ninety percent? Ninety-eight?

For we observe women copulating most days of the week — on SBS, on ABC 1, in the art and commercial cinemas. Most of us as students have blundered in on an act of sex in a shared flat or tent or caravan. None of us suffered ruin for having observed these things.

If the manslaughter in mid-firefight of a little girl who will thereafter not grow up, not work at a job, not marry nor have children nor grandchildren and the devastation of her bereaved and stupefied family is okay with the army, why not peeking? In M.A.S.H we saw the shower walls lift and Hot Lips Houlihan grappling at herself to hide her nakedness and men in uniform watching calmly with binoculars her maidenly fumbling distress, but we did not see them frogmarched off to Court Martial and imprisonment after that. It was thought, then, a kind of joke, not serious, funny in a way, entertaining, certainly. That film has not been banned, nor the sequence removed from it in any jurisdiction or army cinema where it is shown. Why is this? How can such things be? Why is the film not burned by the Public Hangman? Why is Smith not ordering its burning or shredding as we speak?

It is my belief — call me old-fashioned, and I am very old — that if you kill a little girl inadvertently at midnight in a country that is not your own in a firefight that was ill-advised and what turns out to be the wrong house or the wrong village you should do six months for it, or possibly nine. And it is my belief that if you skype a consensual act of sex with an adult woman who does not know you are doing it and is aghast that you have done it, you should pay a two thousand dollar fine, lose two months pay, spend a fortnight digging latrines and be ‘counselled’ for it very frequently and get on with your army career.

If you who read this disagree with me then you must go the next step. You must also ban shower-peeking from athletic teams, from amateur theatre productions backstage, from Olympic Villages (disqualifying gold medallists for it), from touring rock bands, from army platoons on Afghan mountaintops whose showers and toilets have flimsy walls or no walls at all. You must begin to behave more and more like the Taliban, who treasure their women also. You must guard your women from prying eyes.

Or perhaps you disagree.

I can be wrong about this.

But you have to tell me how.

Leave a comment ?


  1. The Taliban don’t treasure their women. No one treasures those who are in their power, they hold them in contempt. They use them, take advantage of them, sure. But they hold them in contempt.

    It is the contempt that is the problem. I get it, Bob. I have female genitalia and that will always count against me in certain circles. This is your world and I can’t trust you so I am vulnerable to being purposefully pissed off at every turn. I’m too old to join the army anyway, plus I don’t much like discipline. I just feel sorry for the 6 foot seven, welter-weight, black belted woman with a fervent desire to rise up through the ranks of the army who is to be relegated to home birthing duties because it is pro-Murdochian to expect any kind of just treatment from the ADF.

    Any soldier worth their salt wouldn’t be condoning this.


    • The Afghan woman who had her nose cut off didn’t seem to be very treasured. Whatever one thinks of our involvement in that place, don’t ever idealize the other side.

      • Who said I idealised them? I said their attitude to their women was over-protective to the point of madness, just like our attitude to our army women, women supposed to be tough enough to kill people, yet shy as Victorian maidens in the bath.

  2. What a graceful intervention.

    The question remains, what should the penalties be for peeking, and for killing a child?

    Lindy Chamberlain got twenty years.

  3. The penalty for perversion should be a short prison term, the punishment for murdering a child should be the same as it is anywhere.

    Soldiers murdered 5 kids from one Afghan family in their own beds and not one charge got laid against anyone.

    And the murders go on and on, and we pay for them to be murdered in Indonesia and elsewhere.

    Kate was most decidedly a victim Bob.

  4. “The five children and an armed man were killed when 18 commandos raided a farmhouse in the Sork Morghab area of Oruzgan province on the night of February 12, 2009. The troops engaged in a gun and grenade fight with the man, Amrullah Khan, killing him and the children who were in a darkened room with him” from Tom Hylands article in SMH.

    Take a walk in their shoes there was an armed man in a darkened room, as far as your aware alone, shooting at you. Your role “is to seek out and close with the enemy, to kill or capture him”……

  5. I think you are confusing two issues here. One is about soldiers in action, war etc., something I know a bit about; the other is filming a woman having sex without her consent. How these two matters can be linked is not clear to me.

    First, Hotlips was from a movie Mr Ellis, it was a Hollywood film and I wouldn’t want to base military discussions and procedure on movies from the 1970s, even if it was damn fine film. How is a 30 year film relevant - unless you also think the Korean War was a comedy and the deaths of 50,000 Americans and 700 Australians a laughing matter?

    The real issue here is about ethics, discipline and judgement. In war, soldiers commit murder, violate human rights, rape, pillage and defile. But what we have here is not war, just young men who may never go near a war - they are training in leafy Canberra at an Academy.

    Perhaps I’ve misunderstood your view, but it is actually against the law to film people without their consent. So if I install a camera in your bedroom and film you and the misses trying to have sex, and then watch that with my mates Tony, Wayne, Julia and Joe, then I have broken the law. It is a criminal offence.

    I ask you this - isn’t this action EXACTLY what Murdoch’s News of the World did? And I recall you going ape about Murdoch’s illegal hacking and that he should go to jail. Or am I wrong?

    So, in short, is this your position: It is illegal, wrong and immoral to ‘peek’ at someone’s phone messages, but okay to film a young girl having sex and watch it with your mates?

    • I agree it is wrong and against the law. I want only to know how it should be punished by an army that prescribes no punishment for the killing of children. More punished? Or less?

      Say which.

      I agree a lot of people died in the as yet unended Korean War. I agree killing people is wrong and I said so in this piece and in about eighteen of my books.

      What is it, precisely, though, that you are saying? That M.A.S.H., a film about soldiers, has no influence on the behaviour of soldiers? Or that it does, and it should be banned?

      Say which.

        • You want to play this foolish game of “Who Can Polemicise Most Absurdly”?

          OK, I’m in!

          “That M.A.S.H., a film about soldiers, has no influence on the behaviour of soldiers?”

          Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying.

          What exactly are you saying?

          • I’m saying it’s popular, so popular it spawned a long-running series, and maybe twenty million soldiers saw it, so it has.

            It stands to reason it has.

  6. Never Enough Ellis

    Bob, the so called Skype Scandal rests on the violation of the female cadet’s rights of privacy; cut and dried, set and match. “Kate” was rightfully distraught and sought remedy.

    Am atrocity committed in wartime, provided it is reported, is investigated thoroughly. It is however, and herein lies the issue, framed within the context of the rules of engagement. Due consideration is given to the soldier’s perception of threat (real or assumed) and concomitant psychophysical stressors.

    If children are murdered as some form of retributive justice soldiers are not above the law. Witness Brigadier Lyn McDade’s decision to bring manslaughter charges against the soldiers responsible for killing civilians in Sur Murghab.

  7. MASH was not “about soldiers” – you are dead wrong here; it was a film/novel about army surgeons! There were, from memory, no battle scenes in the film, and Sally Kellerman’s Hotlips was an Army NURSE (here I scream at you!), not an NCO. You have confused or misunderstood the movie. It isn’t even partly relevant to soldiers, being about medical officers in war!
    If I am wrong, I owe you, but please point out where or how this film is about soldiers, soldiers’ behaviour or any matters relevant to young men illegally filming a sexual act.
    One cannot base ethics, law, and criminal intent on Richard Hooker’s black comedy, now 42 years old. I invite you to address my substantive issue – what is the difference between Murdoch’s NoTW hacking and the illegal acts of the ADFA boys, which you defend as mere peeping and hi-jinx.

    • There are no battle scenes in Gone With The Wind. Yet it seems to be about the Civil War. We know that because we see army surgeons at work, as in M.A.S.H. The kind of men that under stress might film a girl in the shower, or record her gasps while making love. As they do in M.A.S.H.

      How is this not relevant to stressed cadets doing both? Why were the men in M.A.S.H. not punished as the cadets were?


      • I always understood the Altman film to be an anti war, specifically an anti-Vietnam war film.

        It was meant to highlight despite the rhetoric at home, the straitlaced, straightfaced, Kissinger/Nixon line, that anarchy ruled in the actual theatre of war, because the war itself lacked a “moral authority”. That was shown in the demeaning of characters such as Houlihan and Burns, the popping of pomposities and hypocrisy.

        There was no punishment because there was no rule, no acceptable authority because the war was unjustified and indefensible.

      • You always change the subject when you are proved wrong.

        You said that the scene in MASH with Hotlips in the shower was relevant to the Skype issue. Not Gone With The Fucking Wind!

        MASH was about Korean medical officers - stick to the subject.

  8. And I thought she was reasonably sane.

    About the article : No, murder is never condoned. The evidence is, so far as I can ascertain, that the soldiers shot up the wrong house, causing what the military like to call collateral damage. Is that murder? I think not, in a wartime context. Is it manslaughter? Perhaps not formally, but is a wrongful killing which ought to attract penalties : loss of rank, retraining, reassignment to somewhere less challenging. And compensation to the survivors, or to the community.

    Now to Mr Smith. So far as I can see, Commodore Kafer has been found to be within his rights to bring disciplinary action against the woman involved. Smith thought his actions in this context were “completely stupid.”

    It is one thing to be within your rights to bring action, it is another to actually do so as a judgement call : it is presumably that judgement that Smith criticises.

    The judgement call risks leaving the impression that the woman in question is being victimised, and perhaps that she is being muzzled.

    Whilst she obviously has discipline problems (it is against regulations to have sexual relations with another soldier in barracks I suppose?)
    to bring action against her is, I consider, poorly judged; and that was Smith’s view as well, if a little strongly expressed.

    Is there any parallel between the two? Only that both are the subject of military discipline.

    I see no point or merit in any comparison whatsoever.

    • I’m a wild-eyed, violent lunatic but nevertheless I don’t go around accusing complete strangers of being victims of child abuse simply to win an argument.

      This article was not designed to make sense. You tell me what the purpose of it was.

      I’m going now, I just felt the need to check in one last time.

      • I mean it comes on the back of a pretty glutinous Kate Ellis related effort. Whereupon it was told to me that the reason childlessness is used as an insult against women is because of a perceived higher rate of contracting breast cancer.

        I have a breaking point. If he had given me say a month to recover from that before whipping out the ol’ Hotlips Houlihan nugget, I might have withstood it. As it is, he’s just having a laugh. Reader1 baiting, pure and simple.

        Oh, and wanting to argue that women shouldn’t be allowed in the military but somehow feeling not up to the task.

        • Don’t take it all so personally.

          “All the world is queer, save for thee and me - and even thou art a little queer.”

          Robert Owen ca 1828

          When all is said and done, does it really matter what is said on a little blog on a lttle continent on a little planet at the fag end of a little galaxy . . .

          • Whether it matters or not is irrelevant. It still doesn’t make sense, it’s still unfair and he’s still doing it with hideously poor intent.

  9. Big subjects for small answers.
    Things can happen in war with good and bad men.The gates of hell.In a lessor policing action, some same matters are worse than war. Worse is the political face saving of politics or power in under attending or over to the matter.
    Like it is claimed by appeasement a war was stopped by shooting Morant.(bullshit)the situation was politically hinged to appear such.

    Does it matter if it was ten children who died for same result or military psychological advantage? While situations are outrageous, good and bad are going to fall or be saved by the increasing attempts to intervene humanely in hell owned ground and from the thumbs up or down of peanut galleries and manoeuvres of power.
    I know nothing of details to comment on the particular matter.

    The Skype matter, what happened to the girl, was as capably vicious and damaging as any military psychology on an enemy.
    She was obviously not exhibitionist prone or constituted to take it as a joke and those committing didn’t care enough of her or basic decency to consider,think or find out. A self caused accident with such filming result and exposure may be hard enough to live with. I’ve been blessed with girl friends who’s inhibitions with towels and nakedness have been delightful but i also know others who would fall out a twenty story window rather than lose the towel and they badly need the respect for their constitution.

    Smith being a pollie and prone to floor show, may have had other leanings to be so irate but if the officer of apology question isn’t also luring to politics or self defence, wouldn’t any decent officer be sympathetic and understanding to Smith’s outburst on the matter. Politics, floor shows and culpability distorts matters.
    Hopefully someone is sane.where the media or peanut gallery runs with a matter can be as dangerous as any offence.
    Middle ground is the sanest ground.

  10. I adore your love of and for freedom, Bob. And that you have presence and desire to say it, your way. As Buddha might have said, Life is too short; too short;..

    It’s a niggle, in reading, this ever gripping on right and wrong. Is there freedom in that?

    We all have colours to add to the canvas; it’s all our work. We’re in it together. It’s less magnificent if someone’s is denied.

    And that above para is not a lecture (it coulda been worse), it’s a precis, to say cheers and keep at it - somewhat like ramping up the brightness and contrast button on the work as it evolves. Then, naturally, the righties do that too, and how does it go?

    (I don’t believe in that right left thing, but life is short;)

    I do believe this blog has given you a voice and enriched your public personality, and, as this piece and those these last days, enriched minds, albeit with a cattle prod in the arse or so, no, not so, as in always, but a twinkle defintely.

    Hopefully it won’t interrupt your work, by way of attention. But gee old bastard, have fun.

    What will you write in twenty years from now. - when you really don’t give a fuck about what people think (a ways to go yet), and you really do give a fuck about what you write, and they meld together.

Leave a Comment

* Copy this password:

* Type or paste password here:

13,834 Spam Comments Blocked so far by Spam Free Wordpress

NOTE - You can use these HTML tags and attributes:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>