Honor, Cruelty and Character

December 2, 2011

Via Tom Ricks’s blog The Best Defense today comes an arresting reflection on how West Point’s Honor Code has tolerated abusive authority and even cruelty.

West Point’s Honor Code says simply “A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.”  While strict in what it does cover, notice that the Code is silent about a great many important dimensions of character.

Entitled “Cool on Honor: Sadism, Cruelty, and Character Development at West Point,” the piece begins with a quote from The Odyssey (“the blade itself incites to violence”) and moves on to a personal story about the author’s first and only year at West Point.  Later he would return as an officer to teach ethics at West Point.

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About Doug Bennett

Doug Bennett is Emeritus President and Professor of Politics at Earlham College. He has a wife, Ellen, and two sons, Tommy (born 1984) and Robbie (born 2003).
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