Re: Tomahawk Missiles

Subject: Re: Tomahawk Missiles
From: Carl Stieren <carls -at- CYBERUS -dot- CA>
Date: Sat, 19 Dec 1998 10:42:29 -0500

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Dear Colleagues,

Who, indeed, wrote the documentation for the Tomohawk missile? This person
must have quite a load on his or her conscience.

It's time we technical writers learned from the writing of scientists who
looked at the ethical implications of their work. Where are the warnings of
Einstein, J. Robert Oppenheimer, and the brave men and women behind the
_Journal of the Atomic Scientists?_

Such writings must make their way into the curricula of technical writers or
we will continue to turn out automata who will gladly document the ovens of
any future Auschwitz.

Personally, I had quite a crisis in my career a few months ago when I was
doing a job search. One of those who make me an offer (not the one I
accepted) said I should have a security clearance, since they did work for
CSIS, the Canadian Information and Security Service. (For Americans and
Europeans reading this, CSIS is the counterpart to the CIA in the United
States, or MI-5 in the United Kingdom.) If I had continued to pursue this
offer, I would have had only one option: since CSIS information is
classified, I would have asked for a private, off-the-record interview with
the head of CSIS. In that inteview, I would have asked him only one
question: Is CSIS now, or will CSIS be, involved in causing the death of any
individual in Canada or overseas?

I have no idea whether CSIS would have replied to my request to an
interview. Nor do I know what the head of CSIS - or any official - would
have said, had such an interview been granted. But had CSIS refused to give
me such an affirmation, I would not have accepted the job.

This goes to the core of ethics or religion rather than politics. It raises
such questions as:

* Is it better to be a gatekeeper in heaven than a prince in the underworld?
* What would you do if the price were high enough?
* What is your responsibility to your fellow human beings, not only in your
own country, but all over the world?

- Carl Stieren
Ottawa, Canada

"Vunce ze rockets go up, who cares vere zey come down? Zat's not my
department, says Werner von Braun!"
- Tom Lehrer

Carl Stieren carls -at- cyberus -dot- ca
Technical Writer and Designer......................deep in Silicon Tundra
Ottawa, Ontario, CANADA.........................1 hr 40 min from Montreal
Carl's "Text and Subtext" Web

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