Can "Black Sheep" also be a profession?

+6 votes

OK, that's not exactly my question, but it's close enough.

I recently did a quick lookup on the birth family of the wife of my grandmother's first cousin (just wanting to fill in some names and dates, you know), and found myself reconstructing some unusual biographies -- notably for her brother, who was by profession a spy. (He worked for American military intelligence, and he probably retired before the CIA was established.)

I looked here for a category for "Spies" as a profession and found none. The one relevant category seems to be Spies and Traitors. It seems to have been set up for a sub-project of the Blacksheep Project. The mission of the Spies and Traitors project is "to highlight the profiles of those who were either suspected or accused and convicted as a Spy or Traitor." That's all well and good for people like Mata Hari, Nathan Hale, Kim Philby, and Benedict Arnold, but does everyone who did this as their profession truly belong in the Black Sheep category? (I don't think so.) Can we work out a scheme that distinguishes this profession from the glamorous Black Sheep category?

in Policy and Style by Ellen Smith G2G Astronaut (1.3m points)
Somebody who betrays your side to the enemy is a traitor.  Somebody who betrays his side to yours is a hero.  See also terrorist vs freedom-fighter etc.

I think it's similar with spies.  America doesn't employ any.
RJ, I think you missed the *hint hint nudge nudge* emoji that should be attached to that last statement. ;)

Note that this man worked for military intelligence, which is a well-known oxymoron.


I worked for Military Intelligence!

So I was an electronics repairman, but still... lol!

2 Answers

+5 votes
Best answer
I'd hope not everyone who's occupation was spy was a black sheep as that's basically what I did in Vietnam in the army.  I was 98G2LVN whick was voice intercept operator North Vietamese.  Of course that was only for a year, so perhaps occupation doesn't fit.
by Dave Dardinger G2G6 Pilot (410k points)
selected by Cynthia Larson

You did it for a year and went on with your life. You didn't make "spy" your career.

This guy presumably started out with a temporary assignment, but he stayed on. I think he liked the lifestyle. From what I've pieced together of his life, I can imagine this guy in a book by John le Carré, who understands the kind of person who makes a career of spying. For what it's worth, the Wikipedia biography for le Carré calls him "Novelist, former intelligence officer."

Very nice, Dave! I worked along many 98's as a 33T - although in your time it was probably 33S. Good people - well, most of em anyways. At least the ones who didn't break stuff daily and dump it on my desk and look pained when they had to tell me to "fix it". ;)
James Bond was not a black sheep, either. ;) He was an ornithologist ;-)
Ah - but he's one of the Philadelphia Bonds.  The one I'm talking about was interested in very different birds (English joke: birds=girls)
Thank you for your service Dave!

You endured a double dose of pc scorn after your return.

My Aunt worked for the CIA including a tour at the Embassy in Saigon in 1968. She and her friends partied quite a bit but given they were there during the Tet offensive, I figured out it wasn't about the fun, it was about dealing with the situation.

She and the people that I met that were there never talked about it, even when I asked.  Once I asked a friend of hers if she has seen "Apocalypse Now". One of the very few times she gave me a REAL scowl and tersely said, "Michael, I have NO interest in ANY reminders. I have enough." I never asked again.

Thank you again.
+4 votes
I'm still working on reorganising the occupations categories, but eventually, I will spin off "spies" as a separate category from "traitors", since being a spy is an occupation. Whether a spy also counts as a traitor (as has been referred to many times before) depends heavily on the nationality (or at least political point of view) of the observer.
by Greg Slade G2G6 Pilot (530k points)

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