7WD provokes repentance from the military-industrial complex
With the title of this post, 7WD joins in the grand tradition of overstated headlines in mainstream media. A couple of days ago, I wrote about how references to Bible passages were stamped on rifle scopes used by US military forces. Now it seems that Trijicon, the arms-supplier in question, has relented to growing international pressure (including, no doubt, this bastion of blogtastic blustering). The NY Times reports:
Bowing to Pentagon concerns and an international outcry, a Michigan arms company said Thursday that it would immediately stop embossing references to New Testament Scriptures on rifle sights it sells the military. The company, Trijicon Inc., has multimillion-dollar contracts with the Pentagon for advanced telescopic sights that are widely used in Iraq and Afghanistan. Trijicon also said it would provide the Pentagon with 100 free kits to use for removing the lettering on existing weapons.
I’m glad Trijicon is doing the right thing. Really, they had no choice. In court cases, they would have lost, but more troublesome for them, public pressure would have pushed government officials to award contracts to other companies. In other words, Trijicon relented from what they previously defended to save their $660 million defense contract. Good, but not good enough.
Let’s take an (admittedly not quite comparable) example. Suppose I decide to shoplift one day. As I’m walking out the door, I am caught. I say, “hey, I’ll just return it, and that’s that, right?” No so fast, they’ll say. You still need to suffer consequences for your poor (and illegal) choice. Reversing illegal or unethical actions is often not enough. Justice may require more, and deterrence almost certainly demands more.
Trijicon needs to do more than provide kits to remove the references. At the very least, they need to absorb the expense of doing so, whatever that is. I’m assuming that contracts have penalty clauses for various non-performance issues, and they should pay punitive settlements for their actions. Moreover, if it can be shown that procurement officials knowingly approved the purchase of these parts with biblical references, they should receive sanctions (job loss and civil penalties come to mind).
We have to do better than “oops” here. If Trijicon walks away with less than a slap on the wrist, other government contractors have no reason not to pull antics of their own. We need to show the world that we are serious about keeping to the moral high ground.
I still believe Congress should hold hearings to find out what happened. Both Trijicon and military officials should be questioned — and possibly sanctioned or prosecuted.
Illustration from here.