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Quotes / Just Following Orders

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He inflicts an injury who orders it to be inflicted; but no guilt attaches to him who is obliged to obey.
Julius Paulus Prudentissimus, "General Rules of Law"

Argel Tal: I have never pretended to be anything but weak, Kharn. I don't enjoy war, yet I fight. I don't relish torture, yet I inflict it. I don't revere the gods, yet I serve their holy purpose. Humanity's weakest souls will always cling to the words "I was just following orders". They cower behind those words, making a virtue of their own weakness, lionising brutality over nobility. I know that when I die, I'll have lived my whole life shrouded by that same excuse.
Kharn: So will I. So will any Space Marine.

Elvis: The Virgin Mary herself could come waltzin' up in here with her fine ass, titties hangin' out and everything, and if she tells me your name is Jesus Christ, I still gotta take you to see the Boss. You know why?
Slevin: No.
Elvis: Orders.

Haven Hive customs official: ...I'm just doing my job.
Schlock: [in mock panic] You did NOT just say that. When a firefighter pulls a baby out of a burning house and says "I'm just doing my job," the guy gets a medal. [grabs the official] But when a tin-pot burro-crat says "I'm just doing my job," he gets filled with metal. Little pieces, moving very fast.

Krupp: All I do is carry out orders, carry out orders. I don't know what the idea is behind the order. Who it's for, or who it's against, or why. All I do is carry it out.
McCarthy: You don't read enough.

Charles Xavier: There are thousands of men on those ships! Good, honest, innocent men! They're just following orders! (Then expresses an Oh, Crap! face when he realizes what he just said)
Erik Lensherr: (frowns and turns) I've been at the mercy of men who were "just following orders". Never again.

"A fine pack of puppets, you lot. Not a thought of your own, so eager to obey. Because obeying is so easy, hmm? You're never responsible when you're only following orders. And who would doubt what seems so obvious? Who bears the courage to disobey? Precious few. Not one human in a thousand. Now, my lambs, to slaughter!"
Airy, Bravely Default

"The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him."
Principle IV of the Nuremberg principles.

"The distinguishing mark of a manifestly illegal order is that above such an order should fly, like a black flag, a warning saying: 'Prohibited!'"
Benjamin Halevy

"[A]ll civilized nations recognize the principle that a subordinate is covered by the orders of his superiors."

"Just following orders is an coward's excuse, Dorothea!"
Dorn Il-Khan, Baldur's Gate

"A good way to get a decent person to do something horrible is to convince them that they're not responsible for their actions."

"I was a soldier once. All my superiors thought I was brave. I wasn't. I mean, I never ran from a fight. Only because I was afraid my friends would see I was afraid. That's all I was, a coward. We followed orders no matter the orders.
Burn that village. Fine, I'm your arsonist.
Steal that farmer's crops. Good, I'm your thief.
Kill those young lads so they won't take up arms against us. I'm your murderer.
I remember once a woman screaming at us, calling us animals as we dragged her son from their hut. But we weren't animals. Animals are true to their nature and we had betrayed ours. I cut that young boy's throat myself as his mother screamed and my friends held her back.
That night I felt such shame. Shame was so heavy on me, I couldn't eat, I couldn’t sleep. All I could do was stare into that dark sky and listen to that mother screaming her son's name. I'll hear her screaming the rest of my life.
Now, I know I can never bring that lad back. All I can do with time I've got left is bring a little goodness into the world. That's all any of us can do, isn't it? Never too late to stop robbing people, to stop killing people. Start helping people. It's never too late to come back.
And it's not about waiting for the gods to answer your prayers. It's not even about the gods. It's about you. Learning you have to answer your prayers yourself."
Brother Ray, Game of Thrones S6E7, "The Broken Man"

Taravangian: Was this your destiny? Do you wonder? Given that monstrosity of a Shardblade by your people, cast out and absolved of any sin your masters might require of you?
Szeth: I am not absolved. It is a common mistake stone walkers make. Each life I take weighs me down, eating away at my soul.
Taravangian: Yet you kill.
Szeth: It is my punishment. To kill, to have no choice, but to bear the sins nonetheless. I am Truthless.

The saving grace of hierarchy - of the Government Machine - is this: George Copsen will execute the orders of his country, and in doing so he will kill thousands, maybe more. But it will not be his choice. It will be the action of a nation, a huge complex animal of which he is only the tiniest part, albeit at this moment significant part. George Copsen retreats and General Copsen emerges to take his place and keep him from going mad given what he will now do. This is a good thing for George. It may also be a good thing for the general, to be unhampered by his civilian self. Whether it is a good thing for anyone else is less clear.

Pulled into war to serve a vision
That’s supposed to last a thousand years
Part of a machine unstoppable
As merciless as tidal waves

Were they the victims of the time
Or proud parts of larger goals?
Propaganda of the Reich, masterful machine

Time and again the battle rages on
Beyond the gates of misery
As casualties rise and millions die around them
Did they see it all?

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?

Will: Wait! Please, hold on! I have to talk to you! I need to know why the Lazurians started this war again!
Gage: I obey orders. I don't engage in policy discussions.
Will: Orders? But Lazuria is destroyed! Both of our nations are in ruins, and yet we're still at war! Orders don't matter We don't have a reason to fight.
Gage: ... ... ... ...
Will: Surely you thought about this! You must know this war is pointless!
Gage: That's not my concern. Soldiers follow orders, not their hearts. If soldiers acted as they pleased, armies would collapse. We're tools of the government. They tell us what to do, and we—
Will: But there IS no government now! I mean, not a real one!
Gage: Not my problem.

Teal'c: Nothing I have done since turning against the Goa'uld will make up for the atrocities I once committed in their name. Somewhere deep inside you, you knew it was wrong. A voice you did not recognize screamed for you to stop. You saw no way out. It was the way things were. They could not be changed. You tried to convince yourself the people you were hurting deserved it. You became numb to their pain and suffering. You learned to shut out the voice speaking against it.
Tomin: There's always a choice.
Teal'c: Indeed, there is.
Tomin: I chose to ignore it.
Teal'c: Yet you sit here now.
Tomin: I sit here...and I cannot imagine the day when I will forgive myself.
Teal'c: Because it will never come. One day, others may try to convince you they have forgiven you. That is more about them than you. For them, imparting forgiveness is a blessing.
Tomin: How do you go on?
Teal'c: It is simple. You will never forgive yourself. Accept it. You hurt others. Many others. That cannot be undone. You will never find personal retribution. But your life does not have to end. That which is right, just, and true can still prevail. If you do not fight for what you believe in, all may be lost for everyone else. But do not fight for yourself, fight for others—others that may be saved through your effort. That is the least you can do.

The Doctor: That's the same staff who execute hundreds of contestants every day.
Technician: That's not our fault, we're just doing our jobs.
The Doctor: And with that sentence, you just lost the right to even talk to me. Now BACK OFF!
Doctor Who, "Bad Wolf"

Leo:So in one fell swoop, as it were, I lost my girlfriend, my livelihood and my place to live. I thought it was going to be different this time. Frankly, I blame you.
Catherine: I didn't create the circumstances of your life, Leo.
Leo: You grind up the innocent with the guilty!
Catherine: [Warning] Hey, take it easy. I was just doing my job.
Leo: "I was just doing my job."
Catherine: Yeah, I was just doing my job.
Leo: "I was just doing my job. I was just following orders." [Suddenly exploding] Blonde. Nazi. BITCH! You get in there with your big boots and you kick it all apart and you don't care who you hurt! Whose life you destroy in the process!
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, "A Thousand Days on Earth"

Quiet now. Is anyone getting this? Going to make a run for it. Think I can make it. I'm sorry. I'm sorry for what happened to the kids. Just following orders.
Final Entry on the Hatchet Falls terminal, The Secret World

Kurt Dussander: You are a monster.
Todd Bowden: According to the books I read for my report, you're the monster, Mr Dussander. Not me. Two thousand a day at Patin before you came, three thousand after, thirty-five hundred before the Russians came and made you stop. Himmler called you an efficiency expert and gave you a medal. So you call me a monster. Oh boy.
Kurt Dussander: All of that is a filthy American lie. The problem was not of my making, nor was the solution. I was given orders and directives, which I followed.

When you take killing and torture out of your own hands and relegate it to a system, you feel a sense of false purification. You aren't brandishing a torch out of hate, but ticking off columns on a clipboard. You're "only following orders." That detachment is its own poison; you're stained by evil karma and you can never redeem yourself, because you can't awaken the spark of conscience inside you to feel regret.
The Skull Baby, Mage: The Ascension - Tradition Book: Euthanatos (revised)

Scott: Keep it up Bobby. I know where Professor Xavier hid Hank's special rope, and I just might talk in my sleep and let the location slip.
Hank and Warren: You’re the one who brought him home.
Scott: I did not! Professor Xavier brought him home. I was just following orders.
Hank and Warren: We still blame you.
Boby: Hey!

Player Character: Do you believe that the goal you are attempting to achieve was worth killing civilians?
Tran: I didn't want to attack this ship. There is a nobility to being a soldier. When I enter battle, I know I could be killed. I know that others will die at my hands. But that is what we must do. It is part of being a soldier. Civilians are not part of this unspoken agreement. They do not wake up each day and know in their hearts it could be their last. They should be out of bounds as targets for people like you and me. There is no honor in fighting someone who is unprepared to fight back. I regret that I had orders to kill these civilians. More than that, I regret that I carried out those orders.
Star Trek Online, Episode "Breen Invasion", mission "Cold Comfort"

I was Chairman Mao's dog. I bit whomever he asked me to bite.
Jiang Qing, wife of Chairman Mao Zedong and part of the Gang of Four

I wasn't trying to do anything to that Parks woman except do my job. She was in violation of the city codes, so what was I supposed to do? That damn bus was full and she wouldn't move back. I had my orders.
James Fred Blake about Rosa Parks

The indictment knocked me on the head. First of all, I hand no idea at all about 90 per cent of the accusations in it. The crimes are horrible beyond belief, if they are true. Secondly, I don't see how they can fail to recognize a soldier's obligation to obey orders. That's the code I've live by all my life.

The fact that the defendant acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior shall not free him from responsibility, but may be considered in mitigation of punishment if the Tribunal determine that justice so requires.
Article 8 of the Charter of the International Military Tribunal


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