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War At Its Worst: My War and Falaise

(To read the entire "War at its Worst” series, please click here.)

While researching another project, I came across a passage from Andy Rooney’s My War that absolutely took my breath away. Typing the passage into my computer only increased its power, nearly bringing tears to my eyes. I instantly knew it fit into my series of artistic depictions of “War At Its Worst”:

The history books say we allowed 50,000 Germans to escape at Falaise but no historian who saw the killing I saw that day would repeat the phrase I’ve seen in print: “We let the Germans escape.” It was the worst slaughter of the war, a massacre vastly more deadly for the German soldiers than D-Day was for ours.

   

The German soldiers in horse-drawn wagons, trucks, command cars, and a few tanks moved along the road in a straight line like clay ducks on a track in a carnival tent. As the slaughter started, big white flags started flying over their vehicles. Under ordinary circumstances the Germans would have been taken prisoner, but white flags on vehicles meant nothing at the 600 yards between them and the US troops up on the lip of the saucer. The white flags only seemed to make them better targets.

   

Horse-drawn artillery compounded the awfulness of the day. It is easier to get used to dead men than dead or wounded and dying horses. At one point a line of hundreds of horses was strafed by P-47s and they bolted, ran, bucked. Most of them were still hitched to wagons or field-artillery pieces. The live ones, still trapped in the harnesses, dragged the dead ones and dragged their wagons and guns and dragged dead and wounded German soldiers. Some soldiers who had not been hit were crushed or trapped by the actions of the crazed horses. There cannot have been many gorier days in history.

   

At one point as many as a dozen horses had bolted and ended up tangled together bleeding and dying in the Dire River, their blood coloring the water red. The wounded horses were unable to get themselves up the steep bank, and many were drowning in their traces. One US Infantryman, a humanitarian I’d guess you’d say, stood on the bank of the river shooting the wounded horses...

Some thoughts on the passage:

There was no choice. As my dad told me after I showed him the passage, you had to kill those German soldiers. Anyone who escaped would--probably--turn around and start fighting again. This moral justification only makes the passage more tragic.

We originally wanted to post this before Christmas. But it is too bloody and tragic; we didn’t want to put this up at the top of the website for four days before a joyous holiday weekend. My gut instinct was to write something “nice”, like Michael C’s post from last year before Thanksgiving, or something on Belleau Wood. This editorial decision reminds me of the warning from The Things They Carried, “If at the end of a war story you feel uplifted, or if you feel that some small bit of rectitude has been salvaged from the larger waste, then you have been made the victim of a very old and terrible lie.”

I’m tired of trite depictions of German soldiers. This passage shows how morally simplistic films like Inglorious Basterds are, a simplified, easy world of heroes versus villains that doesn’t exist in real life. German soldiers were humans, not stock characters for an action movie. If you can read the above passage, and not empathize with the victims of this attack, well, I don’t know what to say.

38 comments

“There was no choice. As my dad told me after I showed him the passage, you had to kill those German soldiers. Anyone who escaped would—probably—turn around and start fighting again. This moral justification only makes the passage more tragic.”

That was also, you may recall, a central message of Spielbergs “Private Ryan”.

This story also reminds me of the butchery at Mutla Ridge in the 1991 Gulf war.

I saw “Inglorious Basterds” at a theater in DC and watching it as part of an audience was an experience in itself. In the scene where the Wermacht sergeant is beaten to death for refusing to disclose his unit’s disposition, many people in the audience laughed and cheered. We almost left the theater in disgust.

I’ve asked other people who saw the movie whether they had a similar experience: some did and I’ve wondered since whether this was a part of the directors intention in making the film.


War is Hell.


War is indeed” hell” but that does not address the profound issues raised in this thread. To toss off so cavalierly such horrors so tritely underscores the depth of the problem.

Killing is certainly a part of any “war” but that does not mean all killing is “militarily necessary” in the sense that such killing is therefore lawful. We must remember that the general norm of “civilized” societies is that the killing and destruction (of humans, their property and animals that have the misfortune to get in the way of that particularly human activity of killing for political reasons) of “war” is an exception to the general prohibition against such actions.

As such, the exception is limited to that killing and destruction that is actually “necessary” to accomplish otherwise legitimate military objectives. Anything beyond that is not permitted , and if “intentionally” done may be criminal.


The author’s father was correct when he said those soldiers wouldn’t be returning to the battlefield. Since we are discussing films, remember that in “Saving Private Ryan” Tom Hanks’ character is killed by the German soldier he released.

I am not “cavalierly” dismissing what was done but war is hell and who is to say how one would react under similar circumstances which is why it is a terrible enterprise to conduct even when your cause is noble.


Our leaders had better be those who will say how their troops will react under any circumstances where people, their property and animals may be harmed by them. It is one thing for a single rifleman to make a spit second decision that others may question later without the benefit of being in the circumstances. Of course, even in such a case, it is incumbent on the nation sending such a rifleman, and more directly his leaders, to ensure that he is recruited to the right standards (no psychos need apply) as well prepared for such situations as is humanly possible to minimize “errors” that equate to “unnecessary killing or destruction”.” The instances that have been referred to in this thread, however, are not mere split second decisions by one person but rather a complex amalgam of “decisions” (that include failures to act to stop unnecessary killing etc.) that likely afforded numerous opportunities, albeit in perhaps very short windows of time, to stop or otherwise moderate the killing and destruction once it reached a point it was “unnecessary.”

In my view, that is one of the main reasons why the officers are even present on the battlefield. Most purely tactical situations, especially with the level of training and professionalism of our current AVF, can be conducted by experienced NCOs and SNCOS. IMHO, the officers are there to tell their subordinates when to stop.


Harrison, the situation in SPR was one set up by the film director to justify the execution of prisoners; a creative decision based on a need to say, what? That kind of situation would only normally be encountered by commando units (and was also why they were often summarily executed when caught.

The story Eric is relating is very different in nature and concerns the massacre of surrendering troops who, at the time of offering surrender become hors de combat but the same excuse for their execution has been put forward. Yes, there is a possibility that escapees may return to the fight but that possibility (and, let’s face it, by the time of this incident many German troops would have been only too happy to be taken prisoner) is not a justification for the action. Not legally and not morally.

As the narrator begins the story it is clear that he is making an allegation of a war crime.


Good add Steve. I would also add that even in the contrived first scenario (“commandos” etc.), there is no exception to what I previously posted for “special operations” in terms of the treatment to which such personnel are entitled if captured (POW if captured in uniform or in mufti if not involved in actual offensive combat and even if captured in mufti in offensive combat Common Article 3 of Geneva 1949 requires at least a fair trial for spying etc.—no torture and no summary execution).

In addition, such personnel do not have any special license to murder while on operations. The classic that was always raised when I was at USMARSOC is what does a strategic reconnaissance team do if compromised deep in indian country by a noncombatant or if they take a combatant as a POW (who then becomes a noncombatant) and are thereafter compromised such that they need to move quickly and cannot be “burdened” with the them? Short answer is-you cannot murder them. NO exceptions!! Military necessity has already been factored in under Geneva as to treatment of noncombatants and if you kill one intentionally, even under such “in extremis” conditions it is still a homicide and the circumstances will only serve to extenuate or mitigate any punishment if convicted.


Amazing and powerful excerpt. I’d have to say I don’t think a slaughter like that is ever justified. Ever.


Cinncinatus, Jr.

I agree with you wholeheartedly. The “commando” scenario was mostly based on records of practice rather than as any endorsement of its legality. What I found particularly interesting with WW2 accounts is that units that practiced these methods recognized that they’d stepped beyond the bounds of what was defensible and were willing to accept the consequences.


The reason why human civilizations are condemned to fail is because, in his heart, man is an emotional, beastly, ugly animal filled with violence. When that violence is allowed out, as in war for example, it is not so easily put back into the vessel. There is also the psychosis of the crowd thing going on where one man will do something and the man next to him follows and pretty soon everybody is doing the same thing.

Plus many of those soldiers couldn’t have been very seasoned. Is it unfortunate and was it wrong? Yes, and legally indefensible but I don’t think you can turn that violence on and off with a switch, either.


Harrison:

You describe the nature of humankind and while certainly there is that “fatal gene” that has shown itself throughout history to be no respecter of man’s “systems” no matter how attractive they may appear in the abstract (as many have noted when reviewing the universal failures of the sad cavalcade of utopian efforts such as the wonderful experiment in the Soviet Union). This is what makes the US experiment so extraordinary in its having survived this long. The tea leaves do not look promising at present for another 250 years.


Harrison,
You make a very strong case for any commander who wishes to be successful to impose harsh disciplinary measures.

That kind of violence can, indeed be constrained; but not by weak commanders who feel themselves to be in a popularity contest.


Cinncinatus,
To quote Bruce Springsteen:
“In the wink of a young girl’s eye.”

Western Rome lasted 2,000 years, America 234 years thus far. We have a long way to go…

Steve,
To quote Jim Morrison:
“When all else fails, We can whip the horse’s eyes. And make them sleep, And cry.”

I agree, a strong application of discipline is sometimes warranted unless moral corruption has made itself known first.


There was no choice. As my dad told me after I showed him the passage, you had to kill those German soldiers. Anyone who escaped would—probably—turn around and start fighting again. This moral justification only makes the passage more tragic.

This concept, destroying the enemy utterly, even when he is defenseless, knowing that taking prisoners is a difficult and chancy proposition and knowing that the enemy will fight again if given the chance, is a difficult one for me to process. It devalues the human dignity of the enemy and is at its core the result of cold, clear logic and perhaps one of the central quandaries of warface. Winning is the only worthwhile achievement, in the long run. The lives of those you represent area always worth more than those you face and the slaughter of the Other in the present is preferable to the death of your own in the future. It’s a dangerous knife edge to walk and the quoted section of the post recalls for me some of the discussion about the central decision of Luttrell’s Lone Survivor. Sometimes those decisions are justifiable. But they are never easy. And they will always be debated.

@ Steve – First off, let me say that I generally loved Basterds. My favorite aspect of Tarantino’s movies has always been the dialogue and it’s impeccably witty as always. I’d contend that to really enjoy the intricacies of the dialogue in the film you have to speak fairly fluent English, German, and French. As a German speaker myself, I found the German in the movie absolutely brilliant. All of it was spoken by obvious native speakers and the scene in the basement of the pub exemplifies that genius, since the lightly British accented German spoken by the Brit Lt. Hicox is good, but noticeable, leading to the showdown with Maj. Hellstrom. I can never stop gushing about the wonderfully written German dialogue in this film… Anyways, when I saw it in the theater, much of the audience laughed and cheered the scene with Eli Roth’s character executing the German sergeant for refusing to give intelligence on his unit. That was probably the hardest scene for me to watch. I found myself cheering for the Wehrmacht sergeant maintaining his dignity in the face of certain death. In a movie intended as a violent farce I found that scene to be one of the most poignant.

@ Harrison – As to SPR, I found the ending with Capt. Miller’s death at the hands of the prisoner he’d released as a powerful statement on the difficulty of maintaining honor and dignity in war. While that decision ultimately had tragic consequences for Tom Hanks’ character, it was his strong conviction to maintain the human dignity of himself and his men in the face of the extraordinary pressure to make the practical decision that made him such a good leader. Making moral compromises for the sake of immediate practical need is a dangerous balancing act that can have high costs, psychologically, strategically, and politically.


If by the term “defenseless” you mean the threat to an attacker posed by an enemy force has been neutralized and the attacker has sufficient reason to believe this is the case (and in the fog of war this can be a real problem), then the commander of the attacking force must attempt to take the enemy prisoner since there is no longer a military necessity for further killing. Each case would depend on its particular facts.

For example, if an enemy position is overrun and the enemy are fleeing, they are legitimate targets even though they are at that point as a practical matter no longer an immediate threat to the attacker since they are in the act of flight. Given the potential for a counter-attack and the fact the enemy had not indicated they no longer posed a threat to the attacker in the sense the attacker controlled their future acts, the attacker can continue killing even as the enemy flees.

Conversely, in a situation where an enemy force is “trapped” due to terrain, lack of mobility, effective supporting fires of the attacker etc., there may come a point when the attacking force can suspend all or a portion of its attack to afford an opportunity fore the trapped force to indicate whether it will surrender. Obviously, this is a very difficult and close run thing to pull off as occurred in the Falklands for example where one part of an Argentine force displayed a white flag and some British troops were killed when they carelessly advanced without ensuring that it was otherwise safe to do so. No war crime was committed by the Argentinians since the white flag was a legitimate sign of a desire to communicate (it does not mean surrender)by the forces using it and the attack by another group was not intended to use the white flag as an act of perfidy.

The moral of the story is that in a given situation there may be killing beyond the point of military necessity that is inadvertent or mistaken since the actions of the attacking force are judged in light of what information the commander reasonably had upon which to make a decision to continue the attack or not. It is the sad reality of war even in the 21st century (and in my opinion there will always be this difficulty) that engagements are rarely “surgical” and Murphy’s Law is always present. In my experience and study the only apt analogy of “war” (not including some special operations although even those rarely go the way they were hoped or intended) to “surgery” is that it is “brain surgery with a mallet.”


War has it’s own logic, a cruel, mean logic that applies only to itself.

War is ultimately about winning, or surviving, and you do what it takes to win. That’s an argument against war.

I have to say the comments I’ve read have really made me look at the passage, and my first thought on it, in a whole new way. I don’t know if the incident is a war crime, but it certainly forces you to look at world war two, the good war, in a new light.


This is definitely powerful and dark. As Harrison hints, it’s denotes the worse fractions of humanity. Michael C posted much earlier on the fog of war, how combat envelopes soldiers and actions become reactions to conditions and often need justification. Actions like those in Inglorious Basterds’ brutal beating of POW’s. Nick mentioned the poignancy of the scene as a soldier refuses to condemn his comrades to death. However, this is not how the scene was meant to be received; the audience is meant to rejoice in the snuffing of a Nazi archetype.

If an action requires justification, than should not those who acted be held to that justification and held accountable?

It was mentioned above the importance of officers. Since we’ve been using Saving Private Ryan and the moral conundrum of releasing allowing an enemy to escape, remember the conflict within the unit over the decision; one soldier was nearly executed for desertion. It took an officer and the combination of his established authority through superior rank and moral reasoning, that maintained order and the unit’s humanity. I think this was well stated above with regard to the necessity of officers to maintain order.

The question can remain whether this decision was wise. It acted to secure the unit’s hold on their humanity but also contributed to many of their deaths. It is of course a movie, but the moral and practical conundrum remains.

While I agree with Eric that war is often de-evolved into winning and surviving, it shouldn’t be. War should only be wage in defense of human lives. To end genocide, oppression, and totalitarian regimes. You know… ideally. Of course, in the ideal there would be no war.


From a tactical perspective, releasing the German in SPR was a poor decision. Plus, being a German in France, there was no way he wasn’t going to re-join his unit. It may have been “moral” but it put American lives at risk and that’s unacceptable if you’re an American. I suppose they could have handcuffed him to something sturdy, but this didn’t seem to be an option.

Basterds is an enjoyable movie to watch for some scenes, but most of the movie is simply lifted from other movies which I found to be a let down.

If you can take prisoners without putting yourself or your men at risk, fine, if not, well that’s how it goes in war.


Harrison:

You oversimplify the situation. The obligations we have under the Geneva Conventions may at times (and in COIN ops may even be greater due to separate but related strategic and policy matters embodied in the ROE)require us to take risks to our own forces in carrying out our obligations. Indeed, there are many instances where this has been done—I witnessed many occasions in Vietnam where my Marines took risks (some even being killed or wounded) to take a prisoner, care for a wounded enemy or protect a noncombatant civilian “in our hands” as the treaties put it.


I am referring to “war” in its purest sense, not the 20th Century Judeo-Christian version of it. I think there are a lot of internal conflicts with “modern man” because of all of the “civilization” with which we’ve been inculcated. A study of the Greek-Persian wars will reveal a baser, and more true, version of how man does in conflict and, I suspect, there were fewer cases of PTSD.

Helping the “enemy” is fine as long as you don’t place your own forces at risk. I would never place my life, or the lives of the fellows around me, at risk to help someone from the other side unless doing so would produce a tactical advantage.

My view is the other guy signed on knowing there’s a good chance he wouldn’t end up back home wishing his mother a happy birthday.


Harrison:
Without discussing your historical views, suffice to say your “kriegraison” perspective as to how you would fight, is not consistent with the current US doctrine or its obligations under current treaties. As I pointed out earlier, while your view is certainly understandable from a purely human standpoint, a disciplined military unit, and especialy its officers cannot allow such emotions to affect their duty to conduct all combat operations in the manner I have outlined in previous posts. It is THIS reality, as opposed to the one you posit, that our troops sign up for today regardless of what the standard or expectation may have been in previous eras.


If by the term “defenseless” you mean the threat to an attacker posed by an enemy force has been neutralized and the attacker has sufficient reason to believe this is the case (and in the fog of war this can be a real problem), then the commander of the attacking force must attempt to take the enemy prisoner since there is no longer a military necessity for further killing. Each case would depend on its particular facts.

For example, if an enemy position is overrun and the enemy are fleeing, they are legitimate targets even though they are at that point as a practical matter no longer an immediate threat to the attacker since they are in the act of flight. Given the potential for a counter-attack and the fact the enemy had not indicated they no longer posed a threat to the attacker in the sense the attacker controlled their future acts, the attacker can continue killing even as the enemy flees.

Conversely, in a situation where an enemy force is “trapped” due to terrain, lack of mobility, effective supporting fires of the attacker etc., there may come a point when the attacking force can suspend all or a portion of its attack to afford an opportunity fore the trapped force to indicate whether it will surrender. Obviously, this is a very difficult and close run thing to pull off as occurred in the Falklands for example where one part of an Argentine force displayed a white flag and some British troops were killed when they carelessly advanced without ensuring that it was otherwise safe to do so. No war crime was committed by the Argentinians since the white flag was a legitimate sign of a desire to communicate (it does not mean surrender)by the forces using it and the attack by another group was not intended to use the white flag as an act of perfidy.

The moral of the story is that in a given situation there may be killing beyond the point of military necessity that is inadvertent or mistaken since the actions of the attacking force are judged in light of what information the commander reasonably had upon which to make a decision to continue the attack or not. It is the sad reality of war even in the 21st century (and in my opinion there will always be this difficulty) that engagements are rarely “surgical” and Murphy’s Law is always present. In my experience and study the only apt analogy of “war” (not including some special operations although even those rarely go the way they were hoped or intended) to “surgery” is that it is “brain surgery with a mallet.”


@ Cincinnatus – Unfortunately my writing is sometimes rather muddled. You are quite correct, and thanks for clarifying.

@ Harrison – As I see it, the situation in SPR is in many ways the same as that Luttrell’s team faced in Lone Survivor. While releasing a prisoner who may warn the enemy or return to his unit may be tactically problematic, those tactical considerations do not justify executing him.


Nick:

You are correct in your last point—as I continue to point out, these in extremis situations, while highly emotional and thus there is a great temptation in our post-modern world to look for a situational exception, the applicable law of armed conflict already takes “military necessity” and other exigencies into account such that there is no set of circumstances, no matter how extreme, that will provide a defense to any intentional harm to a “protected person” (POWs, wounded and sick and civilians “in your hands”—subject to your control). Any such harm is a “grave breach” in the parlance of Geneva and as such gives universal jurisdiction and an affirmative obligation on all parties to the treaty to prosecute the war crime. The horrible circumstances that may have existed are only relevant to determining the punishment.


Eric:
As to your point: “War is ultimately about winning, or surviving, and you do what it takes to win.” While this may be true at some level—primarily emotional and usually among those who are not professionals in military matters (at least in the US and among our “western” allies), this is not the reality in terms of our doctrine and training (unless things have changed drastically since I retired) or in terms of the applicable law.

While again, if one is standing in a working class bar when war coverage is on the TV one will hear some patrons say such things like your comment. I contend, however, as a veteran of Vietnam and having vivid memories even today of the “over the cliff” loss of public support that resulted, that the intrepid Lt. “Rusty” Calley’s brave assault on that vipers’ nest of enemy (women, children and elderly) in My Lai 4 is instructive here, albeit an admittedly extreme example.

Even in such fora as blue collar bars, if our forces really did what they “thought” it would take to “win,” even if not necessarily to the horrific extent of the My Lai atrocity, we would “lose” in the sense that in a nation like the US with a representative government that should strive to honor its Constitution and the rule of law, we would ultimately “lose” such a campaign.

This is so because no matter how capable our military may otherwise be in the abstract in the campaign, the American people would effectively end the campaign due to loss of public (and thus political) support. I think many, and hopefully primarily civilians who do not know better, bluster about such things (I recall after “Fallujah I” how many in the blogosphere were ranting about just nuking the town etc.) but when confronted with the horror of a real war crime, they become awfully quiet.

One must also remember when considering WWII, that the substantial changes to the law of armed conflict embodied in our current LOAC occurred AFTER WWII and indeed in many respects BECAUSE of the things that happened in that conflict that showed the glaring gaps in the then-existing LOAC.


Releasing someone into the wild because you can’t take them with you, knowing they will certainly re-join their side and do some more killing, seems very wrong to me.


@ cincinnatus – I agree with most everything you wrote. I think I was on a different tangent.

By winning, I meant surviving. Anyone who talks about “doing what it takes to win” in America today is being naive: no one threatens our security or existence. We wrote about this in “what you shouldn’t be afraid of”

But war, which is fought in various degrees, can descend into chaos, and at it’s worst, all morals and ethics and laws fall away too.

America has the luxury to fight our wars ethically and morally. It is a luxury, but also a necessity.


Harrison:

I realize how it seems from a visceral standpoint, but at least in terms of the US view, as the trite saying goes, “it is what it is.”

In the usual “commando” scenario, one must remember that by their nature and in spite of the high expectations that are fostered by ridiculous Hollywood movies, special operations are by their nature, “high risk.” Those engaged in such things, realize that and in my experience in MARSCOC and USSOCOM, those that perform these missions realize that as a “cost of doing business.”

That is why it takes extraordinary people, like those exemplified in Operation Red Wing (and numerous others by US and UK special forces where similar, though with less tragic results, circumstances have occurred) to do this work. They also realize it is up to them to conduct their operations in ways that reduce but never eliminate the risk of compromise and that in such an event, they cannot impose the fatal consequences for that on “protected persons” who have the misfortune to get swept up in the situation.

ON occasion there are excruciatingly fine distinctions that may arise and require nano-second decisions such as the case where a person of uncertain bona fides or intentions (for example a “young” shepherd boy who may or may not be involved with the insurgent force) is not yet a “protected person” in that the US force has not brought him or her under their control or otherwise determined that he or she is not a target and the circumstances are such that the US force cannot do so. That requires a gut-wrenching judgment call whether to kill the person or not. In such a case, absent additional information THEN available to the US force, it would not be a war crime to kill the person even if in hindsight it was determined that the person was in fact a noncombatant. In the last several decades the issue of “child soldiers” also adds another horrible aspect to this in that often children who due to their young age (7 would etc.) under our domestic law be absolutely deemed not responsible as an adult may well be deemed combatants in certain situations as they are fully capable of killing you.


Eric, I disagree, our existence is threatened and our security is at risk. What happens on foreign shores eventually washes up on our coasts because, in the West, all tides lead to us.

I’d say if 10 Greyhound buses all exploded at the same time one day across America many would disagree with you. I’d say the people who died when a train was blown up in Spain would disagree with you. I’d say those who died on 9-11 would disagree with you.

Cinncinatus, I appreciate your response. Thank you.


Let’s say 10 greyhound buses exploded. Our nation’s existence wouldn’t be threatened. the number of terrorists capable of attacking us in in the low thousands. Our military is 2.4 million strong.

Maybe our security is at risk. Then again, 34,000 people died in car accidents in 2009. Really makes those ten bus explosions seem insignificant.


People expect highway deaths, not Greyhound buses to randomly explode because of terrorist activity just as you would not be surprised if an 84 year old man dropped dead of a heart attack but if a 12 year old did you would be.


1. Then let’s all learn to expect, and live with, terrorism. i mean, terrorist attacks, by all types of people, have been occurring regularly since anarchists started throwing fire bombs at the turn of the 20th century.

2. I don’t expect to be killed by drunk drivers, yet they kill 13,000 people every year. Maybe we re-deploy the military to the fronts of bars and freeways instead.

Finally, this seemed appropriate. This link shows that lifting the 55 MPH speed limit has killed way more people than terrorism: http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/20..


Eric:

It can also be argued using statistics that we have increased the risk to the American people substantially by ratcheting up the security at airports that in turn caused more people to use their cars that has a much higher risk than the odd airliner being brought down by a terrorist bomb!

;-)


I think another 9-11 would not garner the reaction you give here and the Posse Comitatus Act would prevent the military deploying in bars and freeways.


DUDES!

i spent a lot of time writing a post… and i think it got thrown away because “The maximum number of hyperlinks was exceeded. Stop spamming.”

i only had three?? that seems awfully low for a well-sourced post? does this thing save posts?? can you delete this one and put my original one?? can we know the rules in advance???


“Also, be aware that we prevent commenters from adding more than one link to their posts.”

…oh. dammit. can we change that to “we will throw away any comment with more than one link”?


Sorry Matt, the comment thing is automated. We only allow one link because that is the number that actually prevents spammers. I looked for your comment in our DB, but couldn’t find it.

after getting burned on a lot of other websites, I now, if I’m writing a comment that’s over 200 words, do it in a seperate word doc.


Well thanks for looking anyway. It’s not the first time I’ve been thwarted either – perhaps I’ll learn this time.