An Ethical Observation and Plea Regarding the “Don’t Ask…” Debate

Sen. John McCain thinks that there needs to be more study regarding whether gay Americans, including those who have already shown themselves to be exemplary soldiers, should be banned from service in the military once their sexual orientation is known. He, and others, don’t want to “rush the decision.” This is callous, inhumane, and wrong.

The public controversy over this atrocious and inhuman policy from the Clinton years has stained America’s principles based on nothing but bigotry and ignorance for over a decade, and now the endless slog to a cure is proving almost as bad as the disease.

Imagine how it must feel, as a gay man or woman, to have the wisdom of allowing your inclusion in a group of fellow citizens and the possible risks of doing so debated as if you are a lower form of life, a corrupting influence, a form of contagion, or some  inherent threat to national defense and military readiness. Imagine this debate being covered in the news media for weeks, months and years. What must this do to a gay American’s confidence, self-esteem, and pride? What must it do to his or her regard for the United States and its leaders?

The end result of this controversy is pre-ordained: “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is unethical, dishonest, corrupting, and doomed. At this point, the deliberations and debate just add to the long-term damage by insulting, humiliating and impugning the character of  good and patriotic citizens without any justification.

This is naked cruelty now, and it is intolerable.

Stop it.

17 thoughts on “An Ethical Observation and Plea Regarding the “Don’t Ask…” Debate

  1. Well said, Jack. One little quibble: don’t blame Clinton for DADT. Clinton promised to open the military to gays and lesbians, and the Congress moved to block him. DADT was a Congressional action that in theory allowed G&Ls to serve–better than the previous system, but not much.

    • Is it? Before DADT was official, I really don’t know how they would determine someone was gay, and it seems the only surefire way to know was if they confessed to it. That’s pretty much the same as it is now, except that it’s a policy that allows gays to serve if they pretend they aren’t gay, instead of a policy of discrimination as it was. It went from overt to covert. Is Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell really better than plain ol’ discrimination?

      I like John McCain a great deal, and after Lincoln Chafee was elected governor of Rhode Island, I realized that is easy to keep the high opinion of a politician intact when they aren’t in office and not doing anything in particular. I hope John McCain retires before he erodes the respect I still feel he deserves.

      • Jeff–Before DADT the military spent serious efforts to find and expel secret G&Ls. Now they leave them alone–by law, except they still sometimes snoop or follow tips. The DA part of DADT isn’t always followed.

  2. I’m with you, E Bob.
    Jeff says he doesn’t know how being gay could be determined. The answer is: before DADT it didn’t have to be. Just the appearance (broadly stereotypical and frequently wrong) or the accusation of queerness could be enough to send the soldier packing, often without a good discharge — enough to ruin lives, without argument or proof. DADT made it quite a bit harder to point out, toss out or just “out” a member of the U.S. military. It’s still being done, of course — that’s the flaw of halfway measures — but one of the interesting (and predicted) results that’s come out of hundreds of interviews both in and out of the military now is that DADT did, in fact, take a lot of strain off everyone. It permitted a great many servicepeople to survive more openly (without “telling”) and thus do their jobs even better than before, including those who didn’t recognize their own gender preferences until after they’d already enlisted (if this is a surprise to you, Jeff, you may not realize the extent of internalzed homophobia in a sex-phobic society). Moreover, the people who knew and respected both the character and the professionalism of the their gay (or lesbian) cohorts, especially their superior officers were, by not reporting perceived homosexuality, putting themselves at risk for being tarred with the same lavender brush.
    Three recent films — Messenger, A Marine Story, and Out at Annapolis — have covered the subject candidly and thoroughly. The latter documentary, particularly, tells the stories, in interviews with the subjects and those they served with and under, of eleven former sailors and Marines who attended Annapolis in the 70s, 80s and 90s. The former midshipmen discuss the reasons why they entered the Naval Academy, the struggles they faced both while students and once they entered the fleet, and the differences faced over the generations and pre/during DADT.
    There is no doubt that there has been an improvement for everyone in the military since the less-than-Honorable General Discharge in 1975 of Leonard Matlovitch, a Vietnam vet with an impeccable war record, holding a Purple Heart and Bronze Star, whose tombstone in the Congressional Cemetery — which as a memorial to all gay veterans does not bear his name — reads: “they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one.”
    As someone whose militant anti-War attitude was considerably modified by conversations with Mr. Matlovitch in 1979, I’d have a bit more respect for the Pentagon if they could take their little-boy noses out of people’s genitals and get on with their job of defense.
    And, as usual (well, most of the time), thanks for the Observation, Jack.

  3. Can’t agree, Jack. Homosexuality is far more than a case of boys acting “sissy”. It’s a form of a mental illness known generically as “perversion”. It’s adherents (victims, if you will) define themselves by their warped, pseudo-sexual obsessions. Wherever they show up, crime, disease and disruption follow.

    Any professional military man, by the very nature of his occupation, is aware of this. In all facets of military life, there must be a close bond between soldiers in their units to enhance combat effectiveness. This cannot exist if one fears not only the sexual inclinations of one’s squad mate, but his reliability (as a logical extension) in a tough situation.

    I could go on to great lengths in this debate in the moral aspect, but in regard to the military’s prime mission- the defense of this nation- I can only state categorically that perversion (as with politics) undermines that mission in both the combat and morale factors and must not be tolerated. The military’s mission is too important to be compromised in social experimentation” or, as it stands, certain politicians’ campaigns to maintain a deviant block vote in their favor.

    • Steven, I don’t think any of us can unilaterally (or archaically, perhaps) pronounce a human trait a “mental illness” when the professional establishment we charge with such things rejects that proposition—and it is hardly stingy about handing out the designation of “illness.” Perhaps it is because when a minority trait has persisted in 10-15% of the population since we got out of the caves, calling it an illness is just a majority bias. Even accepting your thesis, we don’t disqualify able people for employment, in the military or out of it, when they have the desire and the ability to do the job—that’s just discrimination. Gay soldiers are demonstrably able—they have, in all likelihood, included some of the greatest soldiers in history.

      I don’t see the point, or the fairness, in treating a sizable population of people with a perpetual sneer when they do no one harm, contribute to society, and cannot change their genetic structure any more than I can bring back my hair. “Don’t Ask” is like making me wear a wig to be in the army, and I sure as hell wouldn’t like it.

  4. Two points, Jack. First; most credible statistics place deviants as being, at most, about 2% of the population. Yet, their record of criminal outrage far exceeds their percentage of the population in comparison to so-called straights. Second; the excuse they constantly render about their condition being “genetic” (and therefore beyond their control) is absolute hogwash that violates every concept of natural selection. Frankly, I consider calling their condition a “mental illness” as kind a term as can be applied.

    • 2% is not a credible statistic, Steven. Kinsey estimated 10%. Government studies have estimated 9%. Polls show that the public assumes 20-25%, which in the case of a group that does not announce itself, has some probative value. Even if it is 2%, however, my points stand. I don’t know where you get your criminal statistic; I can’t find anything approaching them. If you’re including sexual conduct between consenting adults that still have 19th century laws on the books prohibiting them, that’s cheating.

  5. The issue with banning individuals based on group trends (unless the group itself is defined by criminal conduct like murder or pedophilia, of course, but having gay sex is more on the moral level of watching porn, and plenty of smut-loving servicemen have served with great honor), is that you could apply it to everyone. Blacks commit more crimes per capita than whites. Yet no reasonable human being would argue for banning them from military service.

    I.E. I’m not saying that homosexuality (or porn) are things you should approve of, but if Israel is any indication, allowing gay soldiers to come out of the closet seems to have pretty much no long term impact on military effectiveness, as people simply get used to it, and because a lot of gay soldiers don’t bother to talk about it anyways (the short term may be a very different story, of course).

  6. The good thing is that the young people who are joining the military don’t care about whether you’re straight or gay. They’re the future, When the old guys (generals/colonels and the like) are gone people will wonder why there was such a deal made of it.

  7. Several points here.
    First off; Dr. Kinsey’s so-called research was skewed and compromised in about every conceivable manner. I could could go on forever as to the degeneracy inherent in his sex fables and the way he promoted them. Frankly, it’s as sickening a story as it gets. I’d place more credence with the Playboy Foundation… which was a virtual partner of the Kinsey Institute!

    Second; professional military men didn’t get their stars by engaging in conspiracies to deny America a source of good troops. As combat veterans and decorated leaders of men, they know a thing or two about the human spirit and how to keep it in a state of combat efficiency. They understand- as do veteran NCO’s- that this is not compatible with overt sexual deviants in the ranks. These afflictions come to manifest themselves over time, if not immediately, and can not be tolerated with young men living and operating at close quarters. Young troops, raised in the modern environment, don’t realize this immediately and are often susceptible to acceptance of lewdity. They learn better with time and stripes. I did.

    Third; I would NEVER insult a man by suggesting that his race or creed was a condition on par with sexual perversion. Our ethnicity is something we inherent from our ancestors. Our faith comes to us by epiphany or sober choice. Deviance is, as the very word indicates, a massive departure from the basic spirit and mentality that characterizes one as “human”. A deviant may not be, as a child, responsible for the traumas and influences that have driven him to his condition. But when, as an adult, he not only refuses to renounce such tendancies, but seeks to justify them- and acts upon them- then he places himself outside the community of Man and God alike. I support fully those who have tried to rejoin humanity after their walk through the ultimate darklands of human experience. But I must, for the sake of the innocent, stand against those who do not.

    • Well, its good you have an open mind about it, at least.

      When one has many as many openly, semi-open, and none-of-your-damn-business gay friends, relatives, colleagues and associates as I have had and still do, a perspective like yours just seems surreal, like you are talking about something else entirely. I don’t think I could possibly get to where your are from where I am, even if I wanted to, and I can’t see you ever finding your way here. I will say this: my Dad was closer to your views on this topic than mine—but he STILL thought gay soldiers should be allowed to serve.

    • A deviant may not be, as a child, responsible for the traumas and influences that have driven him to his condition. But when, as an adult, he not only refuses to renounce such tendancies, but seeks to justify them- and acts upon them- then he places himself outside the community of Man and God alike. I support fully those who have tried to rejoin humanity after their walk through the ultimate darklands of human experience. But I must, for the sake of the innocent, stand against those who do not.

      I’m not really going to add anything to the conversation here but I wanted to learn a bit more from Steven so I can better understand his point of view. From the section of your post above I have cited and from previous parts of your various posts, it sounds like the following:

      “Humans” can serve in the Military.
      “Deviants” can not serve in the Military.
      “Deviants” can try to rejoin “Humanity”

      So, by your logic, is it safe to say that a man that has had gay sex with another man can participate in the military as long as he has renounced his actions?

      Also, do you consider a person a deviant based only on their actions? That is to say, if a man feels strongly for the love of a man but does not act on those motivations, is he “Human” or “Deviant”?

      I happen to be a straight family man but I make jokes and comments with my friends of a homosexual nature because I like to see them squirm. The same comments in a military unit might be proof enough that I am gay or could be gay. Despite being a “human” and not a “deviant” would you suggest the military discharge me?

      • Dear Tim: Sorry for being so tardy in responding. Still, I’m not quite sure I understand what you’re driving at. Thousands of homosexuals have turned to God, renounced their lifestyle and have gone on to be decent citizens. In fact, no category of people are so reviled and despised by homosexual activists as they. That’s because they are a living refutation of the common claim that perversion is an inherent trait; the keystone of the homosexual movement. Can such persons go on to serve in the military? I see no reason why not, under those circumstances. And, if making snide humor about homosexuals among friends is cause for dismissal from the service, you’d have a lot of company when turning in your TOE!

  8. Dear Jack: There have been historical examples of homosexual soldiers. I find, though, that overt ones tended to be placed in segregated units. In fact, there are examples from ancient Greece and even from American Indian tribes where they were used as a “corps d’elite”, as they were considered less liable to abandon their lovers in battle! That, however, doesn’t carry over into the conditions of modern warfare. Even if it did, I would still oppose it. An Army today must also represent the values of its nation to both friend and foe alike. And, if the latest surveys are accurate, the addition of deviant troops to the ranks- even in segregated units- would do great harm to our combat efficiency. That, of course, is the final consideration.

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