In 2002, two American fighter pilots, Major Harry Schmidt and Major William Umbach, killed four Canadian soldiers near Kandahar, Afghanistan, because the pilots mistakenly thought the Canadian soldiers were shooting at them. Their court defense attributed the pilots’ actions to the Air Force-issued stimulant drugs they were taking at the time. The pilots had been taking the stimulant Dexedrine during the flight, under the standard-order guidelines of their commander.
Today, when pilots are finished with their missions, they are provided with Ambien or Restoril, the “no-pills,” to bring them down and help them sleep and adjust after defying the body’s circadian rhythms and altering neurotransmitter levels with amphetamines. The lawyer for Major Schmidt noted that the depressant sleep aid Ambien, which was given to Schmidt to help him sleep before the mission, also affected his mental state when he bombed the Canadians.
Links to Curriculum
First Peoples’ principles of learning
• Learning ultimately supports the well-being of the self, the family, the community, the land, the spirits, and the ancestors
• Learning involves recognizing the consequences of one’s actions
Social Justice 12 Big ideas
• Social Justice Issues are interconnected
• The causes of social injustice are complex and have lasting impact on society
• Use inquiry processes and skills to: ask; gather; interpret; and analyze ideas; and communicate findings and decisions
• Asses and compare the significance of people, events, and developments at particular times and places, and examine what it reveals about social justice issues (significance)
• Ask questions and corroborate inferences about the content, origins, purposed and context of multiple sources and multiple perspectives (evidence)
• Determine and assess the long and short term causes and consequences of an event, legislative and judicial decision, development, policy, and movement (cause and consequence)
• Recognize implicit and explicit ethical judgments in a variety of sources (ethical judgment)
• Make reasoned ethical judgments about controversial actions in the past and present after considering the
historical context and standards of right and wrong at the time (ethical judgment)
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