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February 03, 2010

There are no homophobes in foxholes: Repeal DADT now

Some (admittedly ridiculous) people say that we shouldn't repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell in wartime. Really, though, what better time to take the decisive step towards justice and equality? In peacetime, homophobes in the military would have plenty of time to obsess about all the terrible things that might happen if the gays were let in.

But if you learn that the person who is entrusted with keeping you alive in a firefight is gay, are you really going to make a big deal about it?


1993: military opposes gay troops, supports DADT as a compromise; Republicans latch on and argue that gays shouldn't serve in the military.

2010: military supports gay troops, wants DADT repealed; Republicans still argue that gays shouldn't serve in the military.

I'm thinking on balance the policy should probably be repealed. But I also think many of those calling for it may be being overly derisive of those who have some qualms about doing so.

If a male goes into a locker room or shower or similar situation with a bunch of other males, it is ho hum and routine. Clothes are not a relevant factor (except for those who might be very uptight, or maybe confused about their own sexuality, etc., but usually in those circumstances fairly minimally.)

If the showers and locker rooms were co-ed in every fashion, some people would be uncomfortable (or at least if one removed the "being able to look at girls" aspect from the equation.)

With homosexuality, there is this potential discomfort, because one is suddenly a sex object, while naked, for those in close proximity, and this might not be the greatest thing in the world in some instances. There is some bonding potentially that goes on in what would be considered routine situations between people of he same sex -- or at least guys in particular, that might feel somewhat awkward.

To what extent this actually effects camaraderie, or how relevant it actually is, is a separate question, and probably could not ultimately be too significant, in any regard. Those actively serving right now might have the best information, but there may also be some innate prejudice, or over estimated concern, that comes through too.

Like I said, I don't know since being in naked or exposed proximity and being able to be completely comfortable is not the primary situation that is normally relevant here, and it does not seem like on balance that this should necessarily preclude a repeal of any de-facto unofficial ban or don't ask don't tell.

But it seems to be a legitimate concern, if perhaps somewhat minor, and the contempt which some seem to have for even any voicing of a potentially different opinion than those who advocated an immediate repeal have, does cause a little pause.

It's a lot more effective, when concerns expressed that are legitimately held, whether reasonable or not (and often that is subjective itself) are not always dismissed with scorn, but met with first an attempt to understand what the concern is, and then to powerfully -- which does not mean derisively -- show why it is not applicable.

I think ultimately the strongest argument in favor is that whatever bonding has to take place in close proximity, and perhaps locker room type nakedness, also does not apply to the opposite sex, and women serve admirably in the military now as it is, and don't hide from the military the fact that they are female. (But there is a problem with sexual assault however, which may or may not one day be relevant here; it is hard to say, and that is highly speculative, and certainly not suggestive. Perhaps it is even ill informed. Don't know.)

You are seriously undermining military discipline and morale with this talk of gays serving openly. Instead they should be repeatedly shown the super-macho, totally hetero blockbuster "300" over and over and over again to inspire them for their proper esprit de corps.

It's sad that while the United States is fighting two wars of aggression many progressives are convinced that earning gays the right to serve in the military is more important than ending the wars. My greatest respect is for gays who refuse to serve rather than for those who want to.

El Cid - you're kidding right? It is well documented that Greek armies used homosexual relationships as a morale booster for their troops. Your comment is totally funny!

Parse - Anyone that wants to serve our country should be allowed even though that service is sometimes misused.

War, what is it good for?

Pace parse, the armed forces have been a force for progress in society. With two wars, they are overstretched. And we they are overstretched, the armed forces always relax their recruitment standards, which is why they are no longer against gays serving openly. The armed forces integrated before the rest of society also and have provided a means for blacks and latinos to enter the middle class.

I wonder if an organization so opposed to equality of all sorts as the US military might not be better served by ultra-rapid integration across the board. Repeal DADT, open up all MOS's to women, end the bias towards legacy recruits, these and other steps, if incorporated simultaneously, would do wonders in changing military culture for the better.

Mad Hatter: I was kidding. I was referencing the fact that the neo-Khan / tuff guy right seemed to burst with excitement over the movie "300", and it may be the gayest movie I've ever seen as much as I could stand of it (maybe 30 minutes or so) outside of "Batman & Robin".

El Cid - great...I thought you might be but wasn't sure. Sometimes people, especially those pesky conservatives, can be hilareously ironic without even knowing it!

A comment from the previous article, had me looking up Majikthise on Wikipedia. I likely would've gotten the reference 15 years ago, but it's been about that long since I read the books.

Lacking that reference, indeed, I was wondering why such a serious and smart woman would choose Majikthise for the name of her blog. I thought perhaps it was an expression perkiness.

I know better now... And the reference is very cool. :)

I had a conversation with a friend that used to be in the Navy, about this topic, just a few days ago. He's against gays in the military. He said they had a habit of going overboard with a 40lb valve tied to their legs. I don't think he was indicating that he was involved in such activities. He was simply trying to impress on me what a bad idea it is to put these people in harm's way.

This wasn't the first time I had heard someone that was retired from the Navy, mentioning that this was a common practice. I've heard it several times over the years from folks that were assigned to different ships, during different time periods.

Weasel, then you find the people that did it and execute them for killing a fellow service people. It's not like people didn't make the same threats to blacks. It's not like none of them acted on it.

If the military won't do what it's told, we have much worse problems than gays in the military. We have a military that doesn't submit to civilian rule and lacks discipline. In that situation, you also have a solution: Some generals need to have some 'heart attacks', if you get my drift. That way new leadership can be installed.

It really isn't a problem any more. I'm ex-military, my bestie came up through the army infantry/spec. ops., he and the other young soldiers "act gay" to mess with the sergeants. I.e., cuddle, make sexually suggestive remarks. The sergeants are a little grossed out, but the guys don't care. The overwhelming reality is that people don't care. And even with DADT, people know they are showering with gay people. Usually if someone in your unit is gay, they aren't so deeply closeted that you don't figure it out.

Soullite said... "Weasel, then you find the people that did it and execute them for killing a fellow service people. It's not like people didn't make the same threats to blacks. It's not like none of them acted on it."

No trials? Just tie a 40lb valve to their feet and throw them overboard?

If you wanted a trial, you have a problem with lack of evidence and witnesses.

Sailors have been instituting this form of justice on the high seas, since ships started leaving ports.

Your solution sounds simple. Do you have any names?

Do you simply execute everyone that yells, "Man overboard!"

Ismone suggests that this may not be such a big deal now anyway. But he is discussing the infantry and not the Navy. I'll have to ask a younger ex-Navy friend about this.

That's crap, weaseldog. Not that many sailors disappear. And I'm female, ftr. Which is why it was my bestie, not me, that came up through army infantry basic.

What if sailors didn't like women? Asian-Americans? Jews? Come off it.

Mad Hatter, your point that Anyone that wants to serve our country should be allowed even though that service is sometimes misused is well taken. But I'm disappointed that people would regard the application of that principle to the case of lesbian and gay citizens who want to serve in the military as a higher priority than ending our military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Please accept my apologies in misreading your gender. I don't know what 'bestie' means. It sounds like a cultural reference that might be applied to a life partner, male or female, gay or straight. Women serve in the Navy.

I can't seem to find any stats on the number of sailors gone missing during the time period that he served. I can't verify your claim that this doesn't happen.

"What if sailors didn't like women? Asian-Americans? Jews? Come off it."

Come off what? I don't care one way or another. I was simply relating a story I was told.

I'd rather we didn't engage in wars to slaughter people, to make rich men fat. But many people believe it's noble to engage in the institutionalized slaughter of human beings for profit. So we'll keep doing it.

To tell you the truth, I'm not really bothered that people who sign up to go kill people, might get murdered. It seems to me that this is job related risk. The profession intentionally attracts psychopaths. And it protects them, so long as they don't do anything really stupid. Look at the Tillman case for instance. He was straight, and he was murdered by his fellow soldiers. No one has been tried for that crime.

As far as the generals are concerned, this is the cost of doing business.

As I peruse official Navy stats, I'm left wondering how it is that this seems to be the safest career on the planet.

There are some accidents that other Navy friends have told me about over the years, that seem to be missing from the stats.

I get the feeling that they are a bit choosy in which kinds of deaths they publish.

And if you look at Iraq, the military has a habit of airlifting mortally wounded soldiers to Germany. If they die in transit, then they are not counted as combat casualties.

Bestie= best friend.

You're using hatred/murders to justify excluding people. That's what I'm telling you to "come off of" because similar hatred directed at not-gay people wouldn't be an acceptable justification for excluding them from the military, either. It's a particularly nasty version of the heckler's veto.

I suppose you could say it's a murderer's veto.

Parse, your complaint seems to be a non sequitur, unless you respond to every progressive cause X with "Why are progressives working on X, rather than on ending the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq?" Unless you'd say that when X = "gay civil rights bill," or X = "stricter environmental regulations," why say it for X = "repealing DADT"? I mean, yes, DADT and the wars both involve the military, but it's not like there's any obvious connection or tradeoff between repealing DADT and ending the wars.

If I were making a ranked wish list of all the progressive goals I'd like accomplished I can think of quite a few things that I'd put above repealing DADT. But DADT should be repealed, and unlike some (most) of the other things on my wish list, there's some possibility of repealing DADT.

It's time Obama just get on with it and do it. He's the C in C. Truman ordered racial integration of the armed forces and it was done. The military takes orders and carries them out. That's their job. They coped with Kaiser Wilhelm, Hitler, Tojo, Saddam Hussein, and the like - surely they won't be defeated by a few queers. If the Republicans don't like it, fuck 'em: no one owes them a thing, least of all the military whom the Republican armchair warriors have now saddled with two hopeless wars. In fact, if for no other reason, the armed forces should be integrated just to make the wingnut crybabies crap their diapers.

Autumnal Harvest, I think there's a closer connection between "military service" and "ending the war" than between "military service" and some random progressive cause. Gays and lesbians insisting on the right to join the military right now are insisting on the right to become part of those wars of aggression.

I am disappointed in the ruckus over DADT because it strikes me as a powerful symbol of the difference between a fight for liberation and a fight for assimilation. The latter describes for me the current state of the gay movement, and I think that's a pity.

a pity
Well yes. Having to fight for pathetically banal crumbs like being able to work in the Fort Benning motor pool or the Norfolk naval station commissary is pretty fucking sad. Not to mention gay marriage or gay vicars. Seriously, soldiery, marriage and priestcraft: the very antithesis of radical or progressive anything. Ridiculous.


What about the gay and lesbian servicemembers who are already risking their lives, and in danger of being kicked out/discriminated against because of their sexual orientation.

You may not agree with what they are doing, but what is the principled reason for saying that if they choose to do it, they should face discrimination that heterosexuals do not?


Gay people. Just like women, clearly they don't know what they *really* need. Nice of you to point that out.

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