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Reading 21 The My Lai Massacre A Military Crime of Obedience By Herbert Kelman and V Lee Hamilton Under Topic Social StructureIn this article the events that occurred during the Vietnam War in the village of My Lai 4 are discussed In this village the murder of innocent women children and unarmed old men of the village had occurred for no apparent reasonThe My Lai massacre is one example of a crime in which individuals claimed that they were simply following the orders of someone who had a right to command them The types of crime committed however seems to be one that any reasonable person should have seen as a heinous one Piles of bodies were jumbled together in a ditch along a trail the dead apparently unarmedThis was apparently a product of what we call a crime of obedience These occur due to vague orders which do not survive with any clarity This operation was planned by Colonel Barker and his staff as a search and destroy mission with the objective of rooting out the forty-eight Viet Cong Battalion from their base area of Son My village Colonel Barkers superior had arrived the day before and had briefed them about their weaknesses in aggressiveness in previous battles The attack on the village was supposed to occur when there would be no innocent villagers would be found at the scene they were supposed to be at the market It was unclear what was ordered although all the participants were still alive by the time of the trials for the massacre they were either on trial or probably felt under threat of trial When the army got to the village and found nothing but villagers who had not gone to the market they massacred themSocial Structure refers to the fact that individuals in their acts toward each other are patterned in terms of their position in the interaction Everyone has a place in interaction
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