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"'Once ze rockets are up, who cares vere zey come down?
Zat's not my department', says Wernher von Braun"
— Tom Lehrer, Wernher von Braun
"They say he didn't take no crap from the State Line Gang
What the hell they talking bout?
I'm just a hard working man with a family to feed"
— Drive-By Truckers, "The Buford Stick"
"Crazy madmen on a leash
Or young men who lost their way?
Grand illusions of the Reich
May seem real at times
Panzers on a line form the Wehrmacht's spine
Lethal grand design
What about the men executing orders?"
"I work for Vizzini to pay the bills. There's not a lot of money in revenge."
—Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride
"Selling guns is like selling vacuum cleaners: you make calls, pound the pavement, take orders. I was an equal-opportunity merchant of death; I supplied to every army but the Salvation Army. I sold Israeli-made Uzis to Muslims; I delivered Communist-made bullets to fascists; I even shipped cargo to Afghanistan while they were fighting my fellow Soviets. I never sold to Osama bin Laden, not on any moral grounds; back then, he was always bouncing cheques."
—Yuri Orlov, Lord of War
"I realized they were stronger than we. Because they could stand that these were not monsters. These were men... trained cadres. These men who fought with their hearts, who had families, who had children, who were filled with love. But they had the strength—the strength—to do that. If I had 10 divisions of those men, our troubles here would be over very quickly. You have to have men who are moral, and at the same time who are able to utilize their primordial instincts to kill without feeling."
—Col. Walter Edmund Kurtz, Apocalypse Now
(awkwardly sharing an elevator)
Vir Cotto: I—I'm sorry. I wish that there was something that I could do, but... I tried telling them, but they wouldn't listen. They never listen. I'm sorry.
(G'Kar takes out a knife and slices his own hand open)
G'Kar: Dead...dead...dead...dead...dead...dead...DEAD!! How do you apologize to them?
Vir: I can't!
G'Kar: Then I cannot forgive. (exits)
—Babylon 5, "Comes the Inquisitor"
Patrice: We- we can resolve this! I know how you feel... we should talk, okay? We- we can work this out! [gunshot] Ow! You have no idea... [gunshot] Aah!
Bryan: Where is she?!
Patrice: Please, understand... please try- [gunshot] Aah! ...there's a boat by the cay... please understand, it was all business. It wasn't personal!
Bryan: It was all personal to me. [five gunshots]
"Lots of people in history have only done their jobs, and look at the trouble they caused."
—Aziraphale, Good Omens
"Selling guns is like selling vacuum cleaners; you make calls, pound the pavement, take orders...I never sold to Osama bin Laden—not on any moral grounds; Back then, he was always bouncing checks."
—Yuri Orlov, Lord of War
"I would rather you not see it as personal. I am a professional."
—Abner Vanslyk, Hanna Is Not a Boy's Name
"I am not the enemy. To be the enemy, I must have some personal stake in what happens to you. I'm not interested in that at all. I'm here to do a job, nothing more. You are a name, a file, and a case number. That is all. I have no desire to inflict pain but I will do so, when and as it is required."
—Interrogator, Babylon 5
"Down there are people who will follow any dragon, worship any god, ignore any iniquity. All out of a kind of humdrum, everyday badness. Not the really high, creative loathesomeness of the great sinners, but a sort of mass-produced darkness of the soul. Sin, you might say, without a trace of originality. They accept evil not because they say yes, but because they don't say no."
—The Patrician, Guards! Guards!
"We are creatures of duty, Captain. I have lived my life by it. Just one more duty to perform."
— Romulan Commander, Star Trek: The Original Series, "Balance of Terror"
Mirror Master: Gentlemen, we live in brutal times. Last week, to make ends meet, I was reduced to hijacking a tractor trailer full of sports cars.
Captain Cold: That is so beneath you. At least knock over a bank!
Trickster: Gotta visualise!
Captain Cold: "Visualise"? What the heck does that mean? If I don't "visualise" a mortgage payment soon, the wife will have me bagging groceries for a living!
"I'm a soldier, not a monster. Even though sometimes I work for monsters."
— Simon Gruber, Die Hard with a Vengeance
"Men like [Steelshanks Walton] would kill at their lord's command, rape when their blood was up after battle, and plunder wherever they could, but once the war was done they would go back to their homes, trade their spears for hoes, wed their neighbors' daughters, and raise a pack of squalling children. Such men obeyed without question, but the deep malignant cruelty of the Brave Companions was not a part of their nature."
— A passage from A Storm of Swords
"I relate to you, Ralph. When I hit bottom, I was crushing man’s skull like sparrow’s egg between my thighs. And I ask myself, "Why must you be such bad guy, Zangief? Why can't you be more like good guy?" Then I have moment of clarity: If Zangief is good guy, who will crush man’s skull like sparrow’s egg between thighs? And I say, "Zangief, you are bad guy. But this does not mean you are bad guy."
"Look, I was told to walk in a certain pattern, over and over, until something interesting happens! (Beat) WELL I DON'T SEE YOU GETTING A JOB!"
"I'm not a crazed gunman, Dad, I'm an assassin. ....Well "the difference" being, one is a job, and the other's a mental sickness!"
Jill Valentine: Don’t lie to me! Umbrella is the reason why this whole mess began!
Carlos Oliviera: Look, we’re just mercenaries. Hired hands. You really think the master would tell his dog why he has to retrieve the stick he just threw? If you want answers, you should talk to someone else.
Beat: "Quit screwin' with us!"
Kariya: "Um, villain? Screwin' with you is my job."
"At the same time as... hmph... at the same time as trying to lead a good life, I have to reconcile myself with the fact that, yes, I have killed people. Not many people. Most of them were not very nice people."
—Ken, In Bruges
Spider-Man: You again?!
Silver Sable: Down, boy, my contract with Trask expired 10 minutes ago.
'I live in the Managerial Age, in a world of 'Admin.' The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid 'dens of crime' that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices. Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the office of a thoroughly nasty business concern."
"As I write, highly civilized human beings are flying overhead, trying to kill me. They do not feel any enmity against me as an individual, nor I against them. They are only doing their duty, as the saying goes. Most of them, I have no doubt, are kind-hearted law-abiding men who would never dream of committing murder in private life."
—George Orwell, The Lion and the Unicorn
"I was never an anti-Semite. ... I personally had nothing to do with this. My job was to observe and report on it."
—Adolf Eichmann, aka "The Architect of the Holocaust".
"When in the summer of 1941 he [Hitler] gave me the order to prepare installations at Auschwitz where mass exterminations could take place, and personally to carry out these exterminations, I did not have the slightest idea of their scale or consequences. It was certainly an extraordinary and monstrous order. Nevertheless the reasons behind the extermination programme seemed to me right. I did not reflect on it at the time: I had been given an order, and I had to carry it out. Whether this mass extermination of the Jews was necessary or not was something on which I could not allow myself to form an opinion, for I lacked the necessary breadth of view."
—Rudolf Höss, Commandant of Auschwitz concentration camp
"They’ve got to survive, a job to do, it’s every day inch by inch, little compromises, little ways of telling yourself this is how you should lead your life and suddenly then these things can happen. I mean, I could make a judgement myself privately, this is a terrible, evil, horrific man. But the job was to portray the man, the human being. There’s a sort of banality, that everydayness, that I think was important... 'You don’t understand how hard it is, I have to order so many metres of barbed wire and so many fencing posts and I have to get so many people from A to B.' And, you know, he’s sort of letting off steam about the difficulties of the job."
"If you meet a doctor who cannot look at blood, pus or open wounds, he is in the wrong profession. If you meet a lawyer who doesn't like criminals or dictators, it's the same thing."
—Jacques 'Brilliant Bastard' Vergès, Esq., interview with Der Spiegel
"It's long past time that Mulder took the fight to the enemy and I was cheering when he finally confronted the Smoking Man on his own territory. The image of him as a lonely man watching movies and sticking cigarettes into beer bottles is an enduring one, his loveless life is something that we would return to time and again in the series. He lets us in on why he keeps his secrets so closely guarded – if people were to know the things he knows it would all fall apart. He sees himself as protecting the world, not deceiving it."
"Frobisher is meek and awkward. The first scene where he meets with the Prime Minister where we see him in silent closeup, pointedly not even making eye contact with the Prime Minister as he sits, leaning forward in his chair, on edge and looking awkward, just waiting as the PM reads. He is a man who can’t even demonstrate any boldness in ordering a death, simply silently, without words, handing a folder to his secretary and looking up at her nervously, as if afraid she’ll argue, and who fidgets nervously with a pen afterwards.
This is, of course, the entire point of the character - that he is a small and ordinary man who does horrible things out of the most banal reasons imaginable: because they are his job. And ultimately he is chewed up and spat out by the very system he served, the victim of the logic he protected. He is the banality of evil incarnate. "
"There are always people willing to commit unspeakable human atrocity in exchanged for a little power and privilege."
—Chris Hedges, War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning
"Every now and then, you get a maverick who opts out. A sense of justice probably would be the simplest way of putting it. But people are very shy and tend to accept the world view that they grew up with. And if they do well at it and if their class is doing very well, why rock the boat? Even if someone can’t help but see how unjust the system is, the truth is that not many people want to be unpopular. To go against the status quo is dangerous. You’re discredited, you’re censored–worse."
—Gore Vidal (1986)
"How people themselves perceive what they are doing is not a question that interests me. I mean, there are very few people who are going to look into the mirror and say, 'That person I see is a savage monster'; instead, they make up some construction that justifies what they do. If you ask the CEO of some major corporation what he does he will say, in all honesty, that he is slaving 20 hours a day to provide his customers with the best goods or services he can and creating the best possible working conditions for his employees."
— Noam Chomsky
"Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process. Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority."
—Stanley Milgram, of the infamous Milgram Experiment, The Perils of Obedience