Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I'm normally not a big fan of linking to things that I hate, but...

Seeing as we haven't gone into DADT too much beyond a string of comments in a mostly unrelated thread, I might as well link to somewhere else where they do.

If you want to get a taste for how many of the dinosaur breed of general officers and senior field-grades allow their political ideologies, religious beliefs, complete misunderstanding of the Constitution, and just genuine, literal, honest-to-goodness homophobia to shape the way they think about openly gay individuals serving in the armed forces, go check out UltimaRatioRegis's post on the U.S. Naval Institute's blog.
Those who hold religious or moral objections to homosexuality because of their faith are being swept aside and their views marginalized. Worse, such is being done (again) with taxpayers’ dollars. Those who hold that system of faith and values are having their own government undermine that system. No longer is it proper to believe that a category of behaviors does not equate to race or gender.

Other issues that have not been given anything close to serious discussion:

The “diversity industry” will ensure that the gay lifestyle will be advocated for and promoted. Despite those who find it offensive, such reminders will be purposefully omnipresent. This same industry that has made such hash of womens’ and minority issues by the advocating for discrimination and favoritism (doing great disservice to all they “advocate” for) will do the same with gays in the military. Gay advocacy and promotion will result in command-sponsored “gay pride” events, gay history months, and the glorification of a lifestyle a vast majority of Americans find objectionable.

The tolerance shown gay service members now serving under DADT may not translate into acceptance when open advocacy begins. The effects on morale and unit cohesion have the potential to be disastrous. Sexual tensions, unwanted advances, relationships within a chain of command, sexual assaults, all those things that plague current commanders with the integration of females, will likely be exacerbated. We consider all these currently to adversely affect combat readiness. Yet, we are advocating policies that will very likely give us more of those problems?

Also, one has to ask: What will be next? Transsexuals being allowed to serve? Gay quotas for promotion and command?

None of the above issues have been given serious consideration.
The commenters have covered most of what I'd like to say, and my efforts to engage with URR in the past -- you can always count on him for some good ol' big-war China hawkery! -- have been unsatisfactory, so I'm gonna leave it alone. But take a look if you dare.

20 comments:

  1. I guess adding the following is a preemptive measure to ensure serious discourse.

    I expect that comments below will include terms like “closed-minded” and “bigot” and “homophobic”. However, these are not the terms of serious debate, something which this issue has of late been desperately short of.

    Unless of course, those terms apply.

    And, uh, promotion quotas? Last I checked, the only prejudice taken into account for that was competence. (Yes, yes - I know, politics, all that. But not demographics...)

    Thanks for poking the hive there Gulliver.

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  2. It was the least I could do. The hive had gotten quiet, and it's looking like we might be snowed out all week. (West Wing marathon and a case of beer? Yes please!)

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  3. Normally I don't bother commenting on posts that I think amount to an intellectual food fight, but I will because I think you can do better than this.

    If you want to get a taste for how many of the dinosaur breed of general officers and senior field-grades allow their political ideologies, religious beliefs, complete misunderstanding of the Constitution, and just genuine, literal, honest-to-goodness homophobia to shape the way they think about openly gay individuals serving in the armed force...

    I don't really see the point of that statement. Both sides of the issue are dominated by people who are putting their political ideologies and religious beliefs (or lack thereof, in some cases) first and genuine policy considerations second. As for misunderstanding of the Constitution - please enlighten me how that issue comes up from the "anti" side of the debate. I would say that anyone who claims a Constitutional right to serve in the Armed Forces is the one who needs to go take a remedial course on Constitutional Law. And for every homophobe who opposes openly gay servicemembers, there is an anti-military bigot who has used this issue as a bludgeon against the DoD for years. The "enlightened" Ivy Leaguers have held this policy against the DoD instead of against Congress. No ROTC or recruiters on campus because they're homophobes, but using the career services office to steer students toward congressional internships is just fine. Pot, meet kettle.

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  4. Schmedlap -- I'll take your points in reverse order, so first, anti-military bigots bludgeoning the DoD: who cares? Any idiot who faults DoD for DADT obviously does not understand the issue. Irrelevant.

    As for misunderstanding of the Constitution - please enlighten me how that issue comes up from the "anti" side of the debate. I would say that anyone who claims a Constitutional right to serve in the Armed Forces is the one who needs to go take a remedial course on Constitutional Law.

    It's not a matter of having a Constitutional right to serve in the armed forces, but rather having a Constitutional right to equal protection under the law. If homosexuals are to be denied the right to serve, I'd suggest that the burden is on the "anti" side to show how it would erode combat effectiveness or otherwise endanger the mission. Like it or not, the military is in every sense of the word a government program; for a specific group to be discriminated against, denied access to that program, requires a compelling justification. You don't get barred from service for colorblindness, obesity, asthma, or age requirements out of a desire on the part of the government to merely shrink the pool of applicants -- there's an effectiveness argument. The "antis" haven't made that argument in a compelling fashion, they've simply used a whole lot of scare propaganda to insist that things must remain as they are. They've been largely successful up to now because public opinion on this issue was probably to the right of center. That's changed, and the political will now exists to demand an explanation of the "antis." The same happened with civil rights for minorities, for integration of combat units, and so on.

    Both sides of the issue are dominated by people who are putting their political ideologies and religious beliefs (or lack thereof, in some cases) first and genuine policy considerations second.

    This, for me, is a totally absurd statement. It doesn't take any ideology or religious belief to observe that our political system and supreme law of the land do not acknowledge any privilege for specific religious creeds. Which is to say that it doesn't make a damned bit of difference what Leviticus says, or whether 99.9% of American service members believe in the truth and infallibility of Leviticus (they don't).

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  5. Gulliver, I think you completely and utterly missed Schmedlap's point.

    There are a fair number of people who think DADT is purely a function of an arbitrary military ruling. I am always amazed at how many people seem completely unaware of federal laws and all that. Just went to a dinner party this past weekend and everyone was focused on the military and I asked, curious, "what about holding our politicians accountable?" Am I getting this wrong? Isn't this a curious aspect of the debate? How is it irrelevant? Doesn't this commonly held misunderstanding inform some of the campus debate?

    You know I favor a repeal, however, I can imagine that people who have to implement certain changes have concerns about how practical issues will fall out. So, bigots there be, but not everyone concerned about the issue is a bigot. Also, the timing is clearly political and it's not totally out of the question to be worried about adding an additional stress to a stressed military. Again, I favor a repeal, but it's like you picked Mr. Strawman to argue with or something.

    Anyway, I've done my time in the Ivy League as a lowly, lowly Instructor, and my corner of it seemed awash with group think at the "governing" level, while being filled with creative, kind and talented people at the more "local" level. If I had time, I'd fill that out a bit more, but I don't now....

    Hope the snow isn't too bad!

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  6. Gulliver, I think you completely and utterly missed Schmedlap's point.

    Quite possible. It wouldn't be the first time my denseness hindered a discussion of the issues. My point, though, is that I don't care about all this stuff you've listed. I don't care about "anti-military bigots" and I don't care about how the "timing is clearly political." None of that is relevant to the post that I've linked, or to the fundamental issue, which is this: there are still people who think that it's ok for the government to behave as if people surrender their right to equality by acknowledging their sexual preference. All of the other issues are entirely tangential and coincidental to this. Read URR's post. His point is that it should be ok to continue to bar gays from military service because a lot of current service members will have a difficult time with granting them equality, and will not be professional enough to ignore this disagreement as they are expected to ignore dozens of other disagreements and DO THEIR DUTY.

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  7. So the point of this post is that you don't care about other points people bring up, even when they are not on the scale of URR? Well, super Gulliver. The arguments are still out there. And people still think them. And they will still have to be dealt with. And reality exists, as it is, not as you would like it to be. I'm not saying I care about bigots, either, and we should do what is correct, what is right, what is in keeping with our values.

    If the law is changed, the duty will be done. That was the point of my post. You have zippo to say about the law, about the votes for a repeal, or any of that. Or, did you? I skimmed the post to be honest! Hey, it's a blog, I have other stuff to do....


    Okay, I really do have to do now :) Later, all!

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  8. Madhu -- My point is not that URR's argument constitutes the sum total of all arguments against the repeal of DADT, only that it represents the opinion of a significant number of opponents, particularly older ones, and particularly social conservatives. There are plenty of other issues to discuss surrounding DADT; I'm not particularly interested in debating those things, and my intent was not to do so here.

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  9. You should check out the commentary at the official 10th Mountain Division blog. Always a good way to "work" by flaming one another on the Internet :)

    http://www.taskforcemountain.com/mountain-sound-off/19/4047-qdont-ask-dont-tellq

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  10. Starbuck -- Appreciate the link, but I'd rather be dead. Thanks!

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  11. There's actually a very fair and comprehensive discussion of all of the issues associated with the repeal of DADT -- along with the ever-elusive DATA from active-duty service members -- in this week's print version of Army Times. The article was written by William McMichael and Brendan McGarry, and is also in today's Early Bird (link if you can access from a .mil domain).

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  12. Wow! This comment is over 4,096 characters! I need to split it into two comments. I am now officially a blowhard.

    It's not a matter of having a Constitutional right to serve in the armed forces...
    I agree. There is no such right.

    ... If homosexuals are to be denied the right to serve...
    See above.

    I'd suggest that the burden is on the "anti" side to show how it would erode combat effectiveness or otherwise endanger the mission.
    I think your suggestion is 180 degrees off. The burden is on the party clamoring for changing the policy, not the party asking "why?" If I propose changing another policy is the burden on you to explain why not to change it? If so, then I propose that we alter the tax code so that FICA contributions go to my checking account, rather than the SS trust fund. Make a solid rebuttal because I proposed the change so, therefore by your reasoning, the burden is on you to rebut it.

    I don't know where you're going with your assertion that that military is a "government program." Are you suggesting that it exists to employ people? Or that it is an entitlement program or some kind of work-for-welfare thing?

    This, for me, is a totally absurd statement. It doesn't take any ideology or religious belief to observe that our political system and supreme law of the land do not acknowledge any privilege for specific religious creeds. Which is to say that it doesn't make a damned bit of difference what Leviticus says, or whether 99.9% of American service members believe in the truth and infallibility of Leviticus (they don't).

    I don't understand how the first sentence relates to what follows it. My statement is absurd because [insert rant about religious views on the issue]??

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  13. Look, the impression that I got from your original post and your comments that follow is that you assume the that one cannot object to full integration of openly serving homosexual servicemembers without being a homophobe, a political ideologue, ignorant of the Constitution, or Bible-thumping Holy Roller. Why do I get that impression? You made a snide remark about the influence of political ideology, religious belief, alleged misunderstanding of the Constitution, and alleged homophobia on the way that some people shape their views on the topic. When you point out those characteristics of the opposition, it implies that they are driven by everything except reason. It is demonization of the opposition and a suggestion that you're "on the right side of history" or somehow more virtuous. Sorry, but the vocal majority on both sides are largely jackasses.

    Most homosexuals that I know just want to go on about their lives and most heterosexuals that I know don't really care who is gay or straight. But for every homophobe, there is some weirdo who wants to dress up like the village people and prance around in a gay pride parade through the center of town (in other words, there aren't many homophobes or flamboyantly gay folks). For every person who, in your view, doesn't understand the Constitution, there is someone else who, in my view, also doesn't understand it. For every right-winger opposing integration, there is a left-winger supporting it for reasons that have nothing to do with military effectiveness or concern about individuals impacted by the current policy. For every Bible-thumping Holy Roller bigot, there is some anti-Christian bigot who wants to do this just to stick their thumb in the eyes of people whom they perceive as Fred Phelps wannabes. Spare us your assertions that your side of the issue is so much more virtuous than the other. People on your side of the issue are just as full of crap as people on my side.

    The "antis" haven't made that argument in a compelling fashion, they've simply used a whole lot of scare propaganda to insist that things must remain as they are. They've been largely successful up to now because public opinion on this issue was probably to the right of center. That's changed, and the political will now exists to demand an explanation of the "antis."

    I agree with most of that. But, again, don't you also recognize that the other side does it as well? Those on my side of the issue are often portrayed by your side as homophobes and bigots. I recently blogged about the issue and I didn't need to resort to homophobia, appeal to religious authority, legal interpretation, or invoking my political views. In fact, before this issue hit the news, I even blogged about how much I am annoyed by people who invoke "God's law" or some crackpot interpretation of the Bible when doing stupid things.

    The same happened with civil rights for minorities, for integration of combat units, and so on.
    That analogy sucks for many reasons, most significantly because this is not about immutable characteristic, but rather behavior and preference, and it has nothing to do with integration of a marginalized social group into society. Homosexuals are pretty well integrated and prosperous in our society. If I were to voice my opposition to gay marriage at my law school, I would be a pariah. But I've heard more than a few snide remarks about church-goers and southerners - apparently that blatant bigotry is okay.

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  14. That analogy sucks for many reasons, most significantly because this is not about immutable characteristic, but rather behavior and preference, and it has nothing to do with integration of a marginalized social group into society.

    Now we're reached the crux of our disagreement. Homosexuality is NOT behavior or choice. It is immutable, just like being a woman, being white, and having eyes of a certain color. Sexual orientation is not like hair color, you can't just suddenly decide you hate being a redhead (and don't bring up weird contact lenses--re: eye color). Sexual orientation is also not like religion, where based on some reading, you can decide that you now prefer Judaism to Islam.

    Not only that but homosexuals are still shunned in our society, they are not well integrated and aside from those who are attorneys in big cities, they are not just as prosperous as everyone else. I don't think the data is out there but if we took a look at percentages of women vs. homosexuals who run Fortune 500 companies or who are senior managers at these companies (we are a bunch of capitalists after all), I'd be willing to bet that there are fewer homosexuals than either straight women or black men in that group of people. Actually, an easier measure is probably the number of openly homosexuals elected to representative office.

    All this to say, it is exactly about immutable things like gender and race.

    As to bigots at your law school, come on, that's the flipside of long standing snide remarks about women who are there to find husbands or rich kids who got in only because Daddy bribed the school and poor kids who are there only because the school wanted to meet its black quota.

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  15. This is precisely the sort of crap I didn't want to get into at the beginning of all this, so I'm going to try to make my response brief. I haven't brought up DADT up to this point because it's not something that I can offer anything more than an opinion about -- we don't have any special knowledge on the related questions, and none of us are personnel people. The reason that I picked up on the USNI post is because I think it's representative of the sort of generational change that's taking place in the leadership at DoD and in the services. But again, I digress.

    I agree. There is no such right... See above.

    My bad. Obviously I should've said "opportunity" and not right, which is, of course, a significant difference.

    I think your suggestion is 180 degrees off. The burden is on the party clamoring for changing the policy, not the party asking "why?" If I propose changing another policy is the burden on you to explain why not to change it? If so, then I propose that we alter the tax code so that FICA contributions go to my checking account, rather than the SS trust fund. Make a solid rebuttal because I proposed the change so, therefore by your reasoning, the burden is on you to rebut it.

    This would perhaps be true if the policy in question weren't so dramatically at odds with the spirit of American law and values. In this country, there needs to be a good reason to discriminate against people. If the government is going to abrogate its responsibility to treat all citizens equally, I'd like to see an explanation for why that's necessary.

    I don't understand how the first sentence relates to what follows it. My statement is absurd because [insert rant about religious views on the issue]??

    I don't understand why this doesn't follow. You argued that both sides were placing politics and religion ahead of policy concerns, and I argued that this was absurd. The side arguing in favor of repeal isn't doing so on the basis of politics and religion, unless you consider a commitment to equal treatment by the government to be a political ideology. I'll agree that the pro-repeal crowd elevates a prinicple -- equality, or justice, or whatever -- over the pragmatic, tangible consequences, sure, but I'd also argue that principles such as this are fundamental to the meaning of our country. We can't ignore the Constitution just because acting in a manner that's consistent with its spirit would have negative consequences.

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  16. Look, the impression that I got from your original post and your comments that follow is that you assume the that one cannot object to full integration of openly serving homosexual servicemembers without being a homophobe, a political ideologue, ignorant of the Constitution, or Bible-thumping Holy Roller. Why do I get that impression? You made a snide remark about the influence of political ideology, religious belief, alleged misunderstanding of the Constitution, and alleged homophobia on the way that some people shape their views on the topic. When you point out those characteristics of the opposition, it implies that they are driven by everything except reason.

    I'm not sure why you would get that impression when I expressly avoided making any of those claims. What I DID write is that this one particular argument was driven by those things. Did you read the original post that I referenced? Again, the dude argued that repeal of DADT was a bad idea because being gay violates the Bible, and it would hurt a lot of people's feelings. This is not a complex argument. It's idiotic, it's based on homophobia, and it demonstrates a complete misunderstanding of the Constitution and the relationship of the government to the people. Am I saying this about ALL arguments against the repeal of DADT? No. That's why I expressly avoided saying that about all arguments against the repeal of DADT.

    The rest of your post is about feelings and PC-ism and the persecuted white man complex, so I'm not going to bother with it. Lil has already responded to the part about "being-gay-as-choice," and I'd agree with her that this is what the whole thing boils down to: the argument of some "antis" (which, from the looks of your last paragraph, is a group that includes you) is based on the idea that being gay is a decidedly negative characteristic, and that if people were smart and/or wanted to avoid trouble, they'd just make better decisions and not be gay. Unfortunately the law doesn't look at it this way, and the idea that you can be gay in your head and just not act that way -- favorite of religious and social conservatives -- is a fringe view. You say it's about "behavior and preference," but that's not what DADT is about, is it? You don't have to "behave in a gay way," unless that includes telling someone that you prefer men. Hell, you could be drummed out of the service wihtout ever having engaged in homosexual sex if you simply told people you were gay -- how is that about behavior?

    See, there I went and did what I said I wasn't going to do, which is re-engage on this. This really all comes down to the final point, as Lil said. You note that there are pragmatic, policy-based reasons to oppose repeal of DADT, which is something that I agree with (even if I don't think those arguments are compelling enough to prevent repeal). But then you belie your alleged focus on effects by repeating the most egregious nonsense of the culture warriors: that all this is avoidable if people would just stop choosing to be gay.

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  17. Sorry about the typos, I can't type today...must be the snow.

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  18. The side arguing in favor of repeal isn't doing so on the basis of politics and religion, unless you consider a commitment to equal treatment by the government to be a political ideology.
    I think that is really the crux of our disagreement. If you can't see the politicking on both sides of the issue then I think you're taking an overly simplistic view of it.

    Regarding Lil's comment - I'll agree for the sake of argument that homosexuality is immutable. But people don't get drummed out of the service for BEING gay. They get drummed out for revealing it, which is behavior. That's why one of my supply sergeants was able to have a successful career (aside from being highly competent) - because he did not reveal that he was a homosexual. Ditto a great PSYOP NCO that I worked with. Is that semantics? I suppose today many would think so. But given that it was common knowledge that those guys (and several others I knew) were gay, I don't think it is mere word play. The fact remains that they served their countries well and had successful careers, in spite of the alleged downsides of DADT.

    But then you belie your alleged focus on effects by repeating the most egregious nonsense of the culture warriors: that all this is avoidable if people would just stop choosing to be gay.
    No. I don't believe that and I don't see where I even suggested that. Even if I'm correct that homosexuality is not immutable, it does not follow that I think the problem is people choosing to be gay. I actually think integration would be fairly painless if this were not a polarizing political issue. If nobody cared about it, repealing DADT would be easy.

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  19. That's why one of my supply sergeants was able to have a successful career (aside from being highly competent) - because he did not reveal that he was a homosexual. Ditto a great PSYOP NCO that I worked with. Is that semantics? I suppose today many would think so. But given that it was common knowledge that those guys (and several others I knew) were gay, I don't think it is mere word play. The fact remains that they served their countries well and had successful careers, in spite of the alleged downsides of DADT.

    I'm really glad that these individuals stayed out of everyone's way, or that they never came across a homophobe with an agenda or a grudge. (Hell, never mind a homophobe -- it could just be an individual who, in a view that is consistent with current policy, found the presence of serving homosexuals to be inconsistent with good order and discipline.) Because that's all it takes: a guy who knows the truth and is willing to sell you out. So no, I don't think that "revealing it" is behavior, especially not when others can "reveal it" for you.

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  20. That would be initiating an investigation without cause. Not allowed to do that (at least that's what we were always told). Besides, just like much of society - nobody really cared. That's why I think this would be a far easier change if nobody on the outside (meaning political groups) cared about it.

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