Sam Harris Interviews Jocko Willink

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016

Sam Harris interviews Jocko Willink — who’s largely incredulous that people make some of the arguments Harris describes:

That’s very strange to me, you know? I guess in the SEAL community, you get used to people having at least somewhat of the same, similar viewpoint, maybe on different ends within some kind of spectrum.

You take a little girl in danger and some person that knows where she is, and we can save her from his knowledge, that guy would definitely give information, and smacking him around would just be getting warmed up, in my opinion.

That’s in response to Harris’s slightly misremembered real-life example from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, justifying (mild) torture:

Height of the antipodean summer, Mercury at the century-mark; the noonday sun softened the bitumen beneath the tyres of her little Hyundai sedan to the consistency of putty. Her three year old son, quiet at last, snuffled in his sleep on the back seat. He had a summer cold and wailed like a banshee in the supermarket, forcing her to cut short her shopping. Her car needed petrol. Her tot was asleep on the back seat. She poured twenty litres into the tank; thumbing notes from her purse, harried and distracted, her keys dangled from the ignition.

Whilst she was in the service station a man drove off in her car. Police wound back the service station’s closed-circuit TV camera, saw what appeared to be a heavy set Pacific Islander with a blonde-streaked Afro entering her car. “Don’t panic”, a police constable advised the mother, “as soon as he sees your little boy in the back he will abandon the car.” He did; police arrived at the railway station before the car thief did and arrested him after a struggle when he vaulted over the station barrier.

In the police truck on the way to the police station: “Where did you leave the Hyundai?” Denial instead of dissimulation: “It wasn’t me.” It was—property stolen from the car was found in his pockets. In the detectives’ office: “It’s been twenty minutes since you took the car—little tin box like that car—It will heat up like an oven under this sun. Another twenty minutes and the child’s dead or brain damaged. Where did you dump the car?” Again: “It wasn’t me.”

Appeals to decency, to reason, to self-interest: “It’s not too late; tell us where you left the car and you will only be charged with Take-and-Use. That’s just a six month extension of your recognizance.” Threats: “If the child dies I will charge you with Manslaughter!” Sneering, defiant and belligerent; he made no secret of his contempt for the police. Part-way through his umpteenth, “It wasn’t me”, a questioner clipped him across the ear as if he were a child, an insult calculated to bring the Islander to his feet to fight, there a body-punch elicited a roar of pain, but he fought back until he lapsed into semi-consciousness under a rain of blows. He quite enjoyed handing out a bit of biffo, but now, kneeling on hands and knees in his own urine, in pain he had never known, he finally realised the beating would go on until he told the police where he had abandoned the child and the car.

The police officers’ statements in the prosecution brief made no mention of the beating; the location of the stolen vehicle and the infant inside it was portrayed as having been volunteered by the defendant. The defendant’s counsel availed himself of this falsehood in his plea in mitigation. When found, the stolen child was dehydrated, too weak to cry; there were ice packs and dehydration in the casualty ward but no long-time prognosis on brain damage.

(Case Study provided by John Blackler, a former New South Wales police officer.)


  1. Different T says:

    Jocko wrote about having to literally drag Iraqis into the field.

    Sam Harris and Joe Rogan’s listeners have a conniption over Jocko, so Harris says he’s trying to “exorcise” pacifism.

  2. Different T says:

    Harris says he has “arguments” with those who claim the only “morally enlightened” position is to never “put hands” on someone who is about to kill 1,000 people.

    Jocko stutters in disbelief as he does not comprehend that the pacifists are not engaged in any sort of moral calculation. Rather, they are engaged in an “enlightenment” signaling game. Nor does he understand that Harris is taking part in the same signaling game.

    And that by listening (participating in) to Harris’s drivel, we are engaged in the same loop.

    Ghey Earth

  3. Adar says:

    “The Islander”. A Samoan I might assume.

  4. Tim Gilley says:

    A no limits pacifist is more disgusting than a terrorist or criminal.

  5. Steve Johnson says:

    “A no limits pacifist is more disgusting than a terrorist or criminal.”

    Here’s the thing though — being a “no limits pacifist” is a lie.

    Take this example. These cops have a sense of decency and beat the stuffing out of the guy and get the location of the car. What does a pacifist actually do? Well, nothing, right? But you know the answer isn’t nothing. He tries his utmost to have the cops who did the right thing prosecuted. Every time someone uses violence to uphold order against people who use violence to destroy order, he sides with the side that destroys.

  6. Gaikokumaniakku says:

    Torture. That’s the bottom line these days.

    It’s replaced death. Death is a release from pain — valued reward. But the threat of death just isn’t enough to control people. So the ante’s been raised. Now it’s torture, and high-tech torture at that.

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