This is What I was Afraid Of


More theatre in my life, less time and attention to ye olde 'blogge. Oh sweet 'blog, I want not for thee to be a mere band-aid for my theatrical ego. Whist! Whist! 'Zwounds! Other archaic exclamations! Be true to me, mine 'blog, and I shall carry thee onward like that guy in the sandy footprints poster!

In lieu of my own writing, I present you with some text I'm using as part of my "homework assignment" for The Torture Project, which renews its vow to become a real show someday--no strings attached--this evening. The following are terms and definitions harvested from the Grand Old D.O.D. I've already begun editing them for the piece I'm presenting tonight, so the "See also" portions at the end do not necessarily reflect the actual references on the website.

unaccounted for — An inclusive term (not a casualty status) applicable to personnel whose person or remains are not recovered or otherwise accounted for following hostile action. Commonly used when referring to personnel who are killed in action and whose bodies are not recovered. See also casualty status.

casualty status — A term used to classify a casualty for reporting purposes. There are seven casualty statuses: (1) deceased; (2) duty status - whereabouts unknown; (3) missing; (4) very seriously ill or injured; (5) seriously ill or injured; (6) incapacitating illness or injury; and (7) not seriously injured. See also casualty type.

casualty type — A term used to identify a casualty for reporting purposes as either a hostile casualty or a nonhostile casualty. See also prisoner of war.

prisoner of war — A detained person as defined in Articles 4 and 5 of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War of August 12, 1949. In particular, one who, while engaged in combat under orders of his or her government, is captured by the armed forces of the enemy. As such, he or she is entitled to the combatant’s privilege of immunity from the municipal law of the capturing state for warlike acts which do not amount to breaches of the law of armed conflict. For example, a prisoner of war may be, but is not limited to, any person belonging to one of the following categories who has fallen into the power of the enemy: a member of the armed forces, organized militia or volunteer corps; a person who accompanies the armed forces without actually being a member thereof; a member of a merchant marine or civilian aircraft crew not qualifying for more favorable treatment; or individuals who, on the approach of the enemy, spontaneously take up arms to resist the invading forces. Also called POW or PW. See also hostage.

hostage — A person held as a pledge that certain terms or agreements will be kept. (The taking of hostages is forbidden under the Geneva Conventions, 1949.) See also missing/MIA.

missing — A casualty status for which the United States Code provides statutory guidance concerning missing members of the Military Services. Excluded are personnel who are in an absent without leave, deserter, or dropped-from-rolls status. A person declared missing is categorized as follows. a. beleaguered — The casualty is a member of an organized element that has been surrounded by a hostile force to prevent escape of its members. b. besieged — The casualty is a member of an organized element that has been surrounded by a hostile force, compelling it to surrender. c. captured — The casualty has been seized as the result of action of an unfriendly military or paramilitary force in a foreign country. d. detained — The casualty is prevented from proceeding or is restrained in custody for alleged violation of international law or other reason claimed by the government or group under which the person is being held. e. interned — The casualty is definitely known to have been taken into custody of a nonbelligerent foreign power as the result of and for reasons arising out of any armed conflict in which the Armed Forces of the United States are engaged. f. missing — The casualty is not present at his or her duty location due to apparent involuntary reasons and whose location is unknown. g. missing in action — The casualty is a hostile casualty, other than the victim of a terrorist activity, who is not present at his or her duty location due to apparent involuntary reasons and whose location is unknown. Also called MIA. See also duty status – whereabouts unknown.

duty status - whereabouts unknown — A transitory casualty status, applicable only to military personnel, that is used when the responsible commander suspects the member may be a casualty whose absence is involuntary, but does not feel sufficient evidence currently exists to make a definite determination of missing or deceased. Also called DUSTWUN. See also casualty status.


I wish to make it clear that, in spite of the themes of The Torture Project, I believe our military system is one of the best in the world. Any beaurocracy is going to have the silliness of acronyms and the categorization of terrible or ridiculous statuses. It's unavoidable. I admire the spirit of our country that creates such a furor over retrieving POWs and accounting for every MIA soldier; it's not like that everywhere.

I'm building something of a clown piece around this text (in, like, the next five hours) and though that may make it seem like I am taking lightly something horribly serious, I assure you that is not all that is going to happen. One of the fascinating things about red-nose clown, as I was trained in it, is that everything that happens must have personal resonance and be dire for the clown to function properly. To go even further with it, and brutally paraphrase much greater artists, what the audience responds to in the clown is the clown's plight, or even misery.

Because, whatever else, the clown keeps fighting.
 
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