Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Change. ARGH THIS BOTHERS ME.
I have a shaky position on gay rights, which is to say that I am confused on how to reconcile my literal reading of the Bible and the validity of the gay relationships that I see around me.
However, in defense of my own decency as a human being, I would never question the value of a gay person (which I shall use as my adjective of choice instead of LGBT-DAJKLFJLA or however many letters the currently correct acronym has) as a fellow human being. Their life choices, maybe. Their abilities and worth BECAUSE THEY WERE GAY,
That being said,
I DO NOT UNDERSTAND DON'T ASK DON'T TELL.
At first glance I thought that the NYTimes meant to balance the argument with this article. Upon second thought, viewing the Times through a more cynical lens leads me to believe they knew a lot of people would react as I do -- it's another way of manipulating popular sentiment. That unfortunately does not redeem this article, which presumably represents some body of individuals with similar opinions, in any way.
I see two major things wrong with this article:
1. There are not different civil rights for the "civilian sector" and the "military sector."
Dear Former Air Force Chief of Staff Merrill McPeak: I respect your service this country. I respect your military knowledge. I respect that you are old and probably know a lot more than I do.
BUT YOU ARE WRONG AND WHEN YOU HAVE SOMETHING STUPID TO SAY YOU SHOULD JUST NOT SAY IT SO THAT THE NET STUPIDITY IN THE WORLD DOESN'T INCREASE, THUS BRINGING MORE ENTROPY INTO THE UNIVERSE AND HASTENING OUR FIERY DEATH SPIRAL INTO THE SUN.*
While I believed all people are created equal, I did not believe such equality extended to all ideas or all cultures.IF YOU ARE DUMB DON'T TALK. OR WRITE. Saying you don't believe equality extends to all is THE SAME THING AS SAYING YOU DON'T BELIEVE IN EQUALITY. A fundamental human right is not selective.
Even if you are a RADICAL CHRISTIAN, who SINCERELY BELIEVES that all gay people will burn in an everlasting fiery hell, would you be so foolish as to make fundamental to your argument that you do not believe in equality? Not in regards in gay people -- in general, because that is what he is doing here. He is stating that as a general principle, he does not believe in equality in all times or places. This alone could discredit him.
He claims he is limiting his argument simply to instances of "practicality" and legality. It is not legal, he says, for persons in the civilian sector to deny employment to people to who are too short or too fat or too old or uneducated, whereas the military can do so, obviously defining them as different spheres. ???? Even in the civilian sector, I'm pretty sure it's difficult or impossible to get a job that you are completely unqualified for. And all of those things are actual important disqualifications for a job that is as potentially mentally and physically demanding as the military -- much as a 16-year-old dropout would never be hired as a CEO. Saying there are practical exclusions from the military does NOT support your conclusion that their are different definitions of rights in the military.
So why should exclusion of gay people rise to the status of a civil-rights issue, when denying entry to, say, unmarried individuals with sole custody of dependents under 18, does not?Perhaps because those are two entirely different situations! A gay person entering the military is in all likelihood not reneging on a commitment made prior to his* service. A PARENT who has SOLE CUSTODY of a child could very likely be reneging on his commitment to his child should he take a job that forces them to be separated for a long time.
(*Pronoun used for simplicity.)
I'm not sure how to convey that I understand that sometimes morals get shoved under the seat in the real world, that idealism takes a hike when we need to produce a functioning organization. That being said, MORAL DECREPITUDE IS NOT SOMETHING TO AIM FOR. We are a country FOUNDED on idealism. Shouldn't we be AIMING for a military built on pure concepts of honor and duty and love of country? WHAT PART OF THESE CONCEPTS DICTATE THAT WE SHOULD GIVE UP ON EQUALITY?
While this disparity is true in practice, it is unacceptable basis for an argument. Saying "we kind of suck, and we are okay with that," is NOT THE AMERICAN WAY.
I would continue to argue on this point, but I have decided that for any patriotic American to argue that some of his fellow American citizens have different fundamental rights is blasphemous and therefore unworthy of being addressed further.
2. His contention that gay people are disruptive to unit cohesion.
Moral of the story, kids: Gay people and straight people just can't be friends. Just like black people and white people can't be friends. Just like a devout Christian man who only wants to have sex with his wife and a womanizing SOB who will screw any woman who comes near the base can't be friends! The truth is somewhere in between there. The point is, your ability to serve together in the military should not be about your background or personal choices. The military is a body of people united by their love of their country and their desire to protect their countrymen. To say that they are united by something less -- "male bonding" is an example given in the article -- is to discredit them, to make them less than they are and less than they must be if we are to support our military as an institution.
I ask you, in the name of all that is good -- why on earth would you be willing to die, to lose limbs, to miss huge chunks of the lives of your beloved, to help preserve the lives of millions of diverse Americans, and yet be unwilling to simply serve alongside some of these same people?
What really truly bothers me is this: In interests of professionalism, which I assume the military is encouraged to practice, you do not pursue sexual liaisons while you are on the job, especially when your job has the safety of other people depending on it. You don't screw around when other people are counting on you. This applies to straight people, and it applies to gay people.
If we assume that gay soldiers will act less responsibly than straight soldiers -- why? On what basis do we assume that being gay affects your character, any more than being a Democrat or a Republican or a woman or black or Italian or having a mole on your thigh affects your character? If you assume people are born gay -- then it's no different than being born black. If you assume that people choose to be gay -- then it's no different than being a Democrat or Republican (whichever is more offensive to you and will get the point across better.) Either way, these are not reasonable things by which to discriminate.
Who dares to say, "No one can trust a gay man?"
If we assume gay soldiers will irresponsibly express their sexuality because straight soldiers also do so (i.e. by visiting prostitutes or harassing local women -- see this case),
Saying, "Well, most of the OTHER soldiers are fuckups, so you'll probably be a fuckup too, and your kind creeps us out more," is an unholy bastardization of decency.
AND THAT IS NOT ACCEPTABLE FOR A BODY OF MEN AND WOMEN UNITED BY THEIR CODE OF HONOR.
The section of this article that irritates me the most follows --
We know, or ought to, that warriors are inspired by male bonding, by comradeship, by the knowledge that they survive only through relying on each other. To undermine cohesion is to endanger everyone.
I know some will see these ingredients of the military lifestyle as a sort of absurd, tough-guy game played by overgrown boys. But to prepare warriors for a life of hardship, the military must remain a kind of adventure, apart from the civilian world and full of strange customs. To be a fighter pilot or a paratrooper or a submariner is to join a self-contained, resolutely idealistic society, largely unnoticed and surprisingly uncorrupted by the world at large.I do not see how permitting open homosexuality in these communities enhances their prospects of success in battle.
(Emphasis added.) That was clever, wasn't it?
What he's saying here is: The military is special. The military is different. You wouldn't understand what it's like to be out there risking my neck for your damn fucking freedom.
I don't understand. I probably never will.
I was taught to honor members of the military for their service. I want, I really want, to continue to do so.
But an honorable group should be led by honorable people. And I find it hard to respect men, like this one, who believe that the secret to inspiring those he commands to trust in one another is NOT to emphasize their common duty as human beings to protect those weaker than them, to become a united force out of many disparate individuals -- no, it is to preserve "strange customs," (like discrimination and disparate rights), and keep the military in its "surprisingly uncorrupted" state (white, male, and straight).
This probably spectacularly liberal-sounding rant (for me) did not stem from indignation over gay rights. It stemmed from anger that anyone, be he a highly respected military commander, would presume to question in such an offensively stupid way the worth of his fellow human beings.
A blog: Edible Geography. I suspect it is too smart for me. So far my favorite entry was about the evils of refrigerators.
I SUCCESSFULLY REGISTERED FOR THESIS YES YES YES YES YESSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!