Thoughts, Opinions, Gripes, and Grievances


Kian Pf, Writer

It seems, if you are to read it, that the Fourth Geneva Convention (GCIV) makes it a war-crime for anyone to assign a collective punishment in a state that is involved in the GCIV (including the United States), even if it is a teacher assigning a punishment to the entirety of their class. And it really seems to carry, because the exact phrasing is “No protected person may be punished for an offense he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited.Pillage is prohibited.Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited,” (GCIV quote found on a wikipedia page here).

However, while it seems that that because we are citizens, we are protected people, and because collective punishment is a war-crime under the GCIV, a teacher assigning a punishment to the entirety of a class that isn’t entirely deserving of it would be a war-crime. However, there are two reasons that it is completely legal, at least today.

First is that we are not in wartime, and as a result, the Geneva convention does not apply to us. It was written to be a “rulebook,” so to speak, for war, but not for peace. However, even if we were at war, collective punishment is still legal, because, despite being citizens of America, a state in the GCIV, we still don’t count as protected peoples. Protected persons are, according to the GCIV, “Persons protected by the Convention are those who, at a given moment and in any manner whatsoever, find themselves, in case of a conflict or occupation, in the hands of a Party to the conflict or Occupying Power of which they are not nationals.¨ To me, that is a big long line of jambalaya, and while jambalaya is delicious, I don’t quite get it. What I can tell, though, is that if America becomes occupied, we are protected persons, and the other line doesn’t apply to us.

Sorry for getting your hopes up and then dashing them down, but I’m sure you have or will see the picture floating around about it, and you should be well armed with facts about it.