Meme Of The Day – “The military is no place for social experiments!” UPDATE

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Really????

Someone can possibly say that with a straight face??? While at the same time the military is currently on a mission to pull off one of the greatest social experiments ever attempted – bringing Democracy to Afghanistan and Iraq!!!

I am a gay man. I’ve known all my life. I came to terms with being gay, shed much of the negativity imprinted by society while I lived in San Diego in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Of course, being in San Diego means I inevitably date a lot of military men. I can tell you there are more – many more – gay service men and women than show up in the surveys. Hell, there’s a gay bar right across from one of the bases which was frequented by military personnel. There are many homosexuals currently in the military, many of whom are known to be gay by their fellow patriots. It’s not an issue. Why? Because, they aren’t gay soldiers – it’s because they are soldiers first, who happen to be gay. They are good people, who do their job as well as anyone. There are many homosexuals who have served long careers without doing anything stupid to openly reveal their sexuality and getting kicked out. My cousin is one, and I know of several more.

As far as life on the ground – in the trenches – the repeal of DADT changes nothing about that reality. The basic rules about sex within the ranks are still in place. Those, either heterosexuals or homosexuals who are serving, who can’t control their urges, who can’t keep it in their pants, are caught having sex, will still be subject to disciplinary action… Yes heteros get popped and discharged for flagrant violations of sexual misconduct too.

Do you really think that soldiers don’t know, or suspect, that some of their fellow troops are gay? Of course they do! Take a survey of all those who have been kicked out of the military under DADT. Since he’s making news, lets look at Dan Choi. He served for five years and didn’t get discharged until he went public to protest DADT. Do you think that many of the troops he served with, showered with, and bunked with didn’t know he was gay? Of course they knew! They didn’t care! He was a good soldier!

Of course they did! But they didn’t care, because he was a good soldier.

My friend Capt. Rich Merritt served as a Marine from 1986 to 1998. Do you think that he served for twelve years and not one of those under his command knew he was gay? Of course some did (he just reminded me via Facebook it was 25%). But he didn’t get called on it because he was a good soldier. He also left because he couldn’t stand having to live a double life, pretending to be straight.

Look – the military is about discipline. That include the discipline to control your urges. Just because you are gay does not mean that you somehow can’t do that. Discipline also include more than just sexual behaviors. It also checks you from acting out on prejudices you may have against different races or religions, and now sexual orientation. The repeal of DADT takes away the loophole of not applying that discipline when it comes to gay servicemen.

Knowing personally the integrity of so many gays who have served in the armed forces, I suspect that most of the soldiers who are currently serving will quietly go about their duties, the same as they were before the Senate passed the repeal of DADT, without making a peep that they are also gay. They will continue to do as they and straight soldiers do now – to divide their duty to country from their social / personal life. The repeal of DADT stops soldiers, good men who are willing to serve and die for the country they love, from being kicked out of the service simply because of who they are.

UPDATE: Nick, aka Colorado Patriot, makes a great observation concerning sex and sexual advances within the rank and file:

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell would certainly have tied the hands of this commander given this incident. Again, I can’t speak for the commander’s decision, or the whole scenario, but it’s altogether possible that something other than “PC attitudes” was behind his choice to only give “a slap on the wrist” to the offending sailor.

Military commanders can deal with discipline issues using a wide range of tools, from simple verbal admonishment through letters of counseling and reprimand or UCMJ non-judicial punishment all the way up to a court-martial. In a situation like the one the commentor describes, however, anything more ‘official’ than what he’d consider a “slap on the wrist” would have set off a cascade of events that would likely have led to the discharge of this sailor for violation of DADT. For example, even an Article 15 non-judicial punishment would require an investigation that would no doubt have outted the sailor and led to his discharge regardless of his drunken buffoonery.

If the sailor in question was otherwise a good troop (the commentor seems to suggest so) who didn’t necessarily deserve to be discharged for his shenanigans, his commander would be in a pickle: How do I discipline my troop proportionate to his offense? This doesn’t rise to the level of discharge, but anything beyond counseling and a threat of further action would inevitably result in that.

This leaves the commanding officer with no other choice but to issue a “slap on the wrist” punishment. Unfulfilling, I agree.

However, with DADT (soon to be) gone, the offending sailor’s actions could be separated from his (presumed) homosexuality, and he can be disciplined in a more commensurate way. The repeal of DADT will now give commanders better flexibility to address discipline issues among their gay troops. It’s the same flexibility they have had for heterosexual troops all along because they’re not faced with that Damoclean decision of, in essence, discharging a troop for an offense that doesn’t necessarily call for such a measure.

Couldn’t have said it any better.

4 Comments to “Meme Of The Day – “The military is no place for social experiments!” UPDATE”

  1. By Jeff Alberts, December 21, 2010 @ 5:44 am

    Having spent a few years in the Army, albeit 27 years ago, I can’t say I agree with you about the discipline and controlling urges. They teach you discipline to follow orders on the battlefield, not to do with sexual desires, drinking, drugs, etc. Drug and alcohol abuse in the Army when I was in was rampant, I can’t imagine it’s much different now. I didn’t partake (ok, the only two times I’ve been drunk were in the Army, but they were experiments, and I haven’t drank since), but I was in many rooms where pot and hash were commonly used. Acid was talked about a lot, but I don’t think I ever saw it.

    I spent my high school years in pot-smoke filled rooms, but again, never partook. I don’t know why, I just never wanted to do it. I guess I saw all the crap my older sister got into and thought, no effing way.

    My point is, if you weren’t any good at controlling your urges as a civilian, the military isn’t going to change that. But, I never really thought about anybody in my units being gay. The thought just never occurred to me, except as a joke.

    But serving openly in the military does bring up an issue I would wonder about. If you KNOW the guy you’re showering with is gay, would that make you (if you were straight) nervous? I mean, if a hetero guy walked into the women’s shower, there would be hell to pay. Isn’t this the same thing?

  2. By Jeff Alberts, December 21, 2010 @ 5:47 am

    Maybe this is in bad taste, but when I first heard the phrase “serving openly gay in the military” my first thought was a camouflaged feather boa…

  3. By Sonicfrog, December 21, 2010 @ 7:58 am

    Drug and alcohol abuse in the Army when I was in was rampant, I can’t imagine it’s much different now.

    I don’t think it’s different now.

    “Drugs and alcohol”. I was going to go into this aspect of military service, but I was already running long. Here is the difference. I think that you’ll agree – thought the brass discourages alcohol and drug abuse, there is an underlying social approval of getting lit on one thing or another. Getting drunk of your ass is kind of a badge of honor. It’s accepted by our society. In civilian life, being loose sexually with your fellow workmates is generally discouraged. Gays who wish to serve will, I think, continue to be low key. It’s just more comfortable to compartmentalize your sexuality when you are in situations when you know it will ruffle feathers.

    “But, I never really thought about anybody in my units being gay. The thought just never occurred to me, except as a joke.”

    And how many did you serve with? Can you honestly say with any amount of certainty that not one of those in any of the units you served in was gay? There was almost certainly a few. There were also some guys in your high school gym class that you showered with who, unknown to you, were gay. One of those high school classmates or gay servicemen may have even had a secret crush on you. You don’t know. Now that the ban is lifted, will their be a few who go overboard and get stupid? Of course there will be. And they should get the proper discipline. But now they will no longer be kicked out simply for being gay, but only if they act on their feelings. It’s the way it should be.

  4. By Jeff Alberts, December 21, 2010 @ 4:02 pm

    “Drugs and alcohol”. I was going to go into this aspect of military service, but I was already running long. Here is the difference. I think that you’ll agree – thought the brass discourages alcohol and drug abuse, there is an underlying social approval of getting lit on one thing or another. Getting drunk of your ass is kind of a badge of honor. It’s accepted by our society. In civilian life, being loose sexually with your fellow workmates is generally discouraged. Gays who wish to serve will, I think, continue to be low key. It’s just more comfortable to compartmentalize your sexuality when you are in situations when you know it will ruffle feathers.

    I was in a combat unit stationed near the East German border, so it was a higher stress environment than say, being stationed back in the states. However, I didn’t drink due to stress, I drank to see what all the fuss was about, and still don’t get it. I knew many guys on both sides of the coin, those who drank before they joined, and those who didn’t. As far as I know, none of the ones who didn’t drink beforehand started drinking because they wanted to achieve a badge of honor. That’s not to say none of them did, just none of the ones I knew. If they were like me, they looked at their drunken/stoned buddies and thought “Friggin’ morons”.

    Yes, having sex with co-workers is discouraged, but it happens frequently. I did it once, lost my job, but it didn’t discourage me from wanting it to happen again later. Again my point is that urges are urges, and the Military doesn’t do anything to get rid of them any more than religion does.

    And how many did you serve with? Can you honestly say with any amount of certainty that not one of those in any of the units you served in was gay?

    You missed my point, I think. I didn’t say none of them were gay, I said I didn’t think about it. In group showers I wasn’t looking over my shoulder to see who might be staring. But if I KNEW there were gay guys in the shower, I might act differently. Again, the same as if straight men and women were showering together. The men would enjoy it, the women, I think, would feel very uncomfortable, unless they were interested in the guys. But with gay men showering with straight men, that urge only goes in one direction. The same goes with lesbian women in private situations with straight women.

    Sorry, rambling a bit 😉 Gotta go to work!

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