You haven’t seen kangaroo courts until you have seen these student tribunals. And by the way, it hardly matters what rules they operate under. You might say, well, what’s the standard to convict? It doesn’t matter. You could have reasonable, beyond a reasonable doubt. They will convict because it is in their nature. Now, sometimes these are political cases, like the rape cases are invariably political. But sometimes not. A student registering a student party. That’s not a hot-button political issue. But it is in the nature of these institutions to ignore facts, to ignore logic, to not look at evidence, to look at where they want the outcome to be. That is the sickness of these colleges and universities. But most of the cases I get do involve hot-button issues involving gender and race and sexual orientation. Not all of them do. The simplest case can come out with a bizarre conclusion because some administrator decided that he wants to teach the student a lesson.
One of the reasons I despised my time in college was the stifling atmosphere of political correctness. And this was in 1987. I can’t imagine it has gotten any better.
In the Army, if you screw up, or if your commander suddenly just has a hard on for you, he’s got plenty of ways of making your life miserable. The most common form of punishment in the Army is the Article 15 (so called because it’s Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice). It’s called “non-juidicial punishment” because it is, in fact, non-judicial. If the commander thinks you’re guilty, you’re guilty.
There are three levels of NJP. The Summarized, Company Grade, and Field Grade. The summarized is little more than a slap on the wrist. The company and field grade proceedings, however, can result in real penalties, and can have drastic effects on your career prospects.
So if your boss wants to hang you out to dry, you’re screwed, right?
Not exactly. Even though the proceedings aren’t judicial, you still have rights, including access to counsel before the proceedings, the right to have witnesses speak on your behalf, and to present evidence, both exculpatory, and of mitigation.
Further, in the Army*, for proceedings above the summarized level, you have the right to refuse NJP, and demand a court martial. I wouldn’t recommend that path to the truly guilty, but it IS an option for those who think they won’t get a fair hearing from their command.
Servicemembers also have recourse to other means of addressing what they see as an injustice. It is not at all unheard of for troops to contact the Inspector General (IG) or even to write their Congressional Representatives to air complaints.
Military Justice is hardly perfect, but one thing it most definitely is not is a kangaroo court. We ask our servicemembers to sacrifice a lot, including the free exercise of rights that many of us in the civilian world take for granted. It is only right that we jealously protect those rights they still maintain and ensure their treatment under authority is fair and equitable.
Contrast that with a college. Universities in America spend an inordinate amount of time bleating about the exercise of free speech, but an even more amount of time suppressing the true exercise thereof. In the Army, your exercise of free speech is pretty much restricted to not making insubordinate statements. On a campus, vaguely worded speech codes can be used to arbitrarily condemn almost anyone for any reason. The true crime isn’t speech, but speech that offends anyone in power. And there is little or no recourse against the institution if they decide to cast you as The Other, and outside the protections of the institution.
The bonus here is, you have to pay good money and go deep into debt to be treated poorly.
*Naval personnel on sea duty may not refuse NJP. Those stationed ashore may.