Tuesday, November 30, 2010

There is Now No Real Reason for Keeping Don't Ask, Don't Tell

One of the few things coming out of Washington that portends good news is the Pentagon report on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."  In all honesty, I am not surprised that solid majorities of service members would have no real issue serving alongside gays, lesbians and bisexuals, especially since they are already doing so.  Now we have an interesting reality:  The overwhelming majority of Americans of all stripes support repeal of the DADT, the majority of people serving in the military don't foresee problems with letting their current (and future) gay colleagues serving openly, and the three most important people responsible for the military (President Obama, Secretary Gates and Joint Chiefs Chair Mullen) want repeal now.  In the face of all of these plain facts, we have one central flaw:  the United States Senate. 

I have little confidence that repeal will come in this year, because even in the face of empirical evidence that all segments of the American populace want this travesty of a law gone, a solid minority of U.S. Senators don't give a flying fuck.  They just know that gays in the military are bad (how about some direct lobbying from the Log Cabin Republicans of actual Republicans (instead of just looking at and blaming Obama?).

DADTReport FINAL Hires)


Anonymous said...

Is this partisan Jeffrey writing, or intellectual staring into the ocean Jeffrey? Intellectual Jeffrey would have acknowledged that a majority of combat troops in the Army and the Marines DO have concerns. Partisan Jeffrey just ignores those facts to push his political/personal agenda.

I’m more interested to know why this is so important to you. I don’t believe that you really care about military effectiveness so please don’t drag out the anecdote about the gay Arabic speaker. Plus, for every qualified gay that stays in the military you are probably going to lose a qualified straight person. If and when this policy changes what will it do for YOU (and other gays who are pushing this so hard)? And don’t say justice. If justice were important you would focus on employment protection.

My own theory is that gays are using the military to get a high profile American institution to signal that they are normal, just like everyone else. It will fill some psychological hole. It will make them FEEL good. It’s therapy at the nation’s expense.

hscfree said...

"My own theory is that [Negroes] are using the military to get a high profile American institution to signal that they are normal, just like everyone else. It will make them FEEL good. It's therapy at the nation's expense." Reads like something straight out of 1948. And this would likely have been the more liberal position for integration of that sort.

Anonymous said...

I see that it is Partisan Jeffrey who is writing today. You have ignored my question and attacked me as a bigot.

Your use of the beloved black integration argument underscores a problem for progressives. They believe strongly that past changes justify current and future changes. But surely, that principle has limits. For example: miscegenation used to be illegal, today it is not. Does it follow that today incest is illegal, but tomorrow it should not be illegal? So what are the limitations of your race integration analogy, are there any?

It also seems to break down in other ways. Race is clearly a characteristic. It’s not clear what being gay is. Put aside the biological vs. choice issue, is it a characteristic or is it a behavior? I tend to think it is a behavior, which would again make it different from the race analogy. I’d be happy to discuss why I think it is a behavior in more detail, but I don’t want to spend a lot of time if you are just going to be flippant and imply that I’m a bigot again. I’d be interested in how you define being gay?

hscfree said...

I don't think I "attacked" anything. I simply pointed out the ease with which one group could replace another. Are there differences between the two groups? Yes, there are. But, in order to take this discussion to the showers (which is where the chief difference seems to land every time), like many opponents of letting gays serve OPENLY want to go, I have to pretend that there have never been, aren't currently, and will never be, gay people serving in the military this very moment.

I have no need to talk about the linguists, because they can do that themselves. This issue revolves around employment protection, at least I think that the people who have lost their jobs over this issue would say that. Oh, and I suppose those gay Republicans who won the first round of their law suit aren't seeking justice. They want to get back into the barracks to ogle straight people, I guess.

I think that the survey itself kills the idea that straight people will not join the military if gays are allowed to serve openly. And the key is openly, once again. Where were the resignations after the thousands of gays were discovered in their midst?

Since I am merely a relative and friend to those who have served, I cannot give a personal account of these things, but from what I have been told by those various family members and friends who have served, with the express exception of one, is that they had little to no problems serving with the people whom they knew to be gay or assumed to be gay. The gay people who have served that I either know or am related to, also reported essentially what the Pentagon discovered.

I say all of that to say that both (as you've put it) the intellectual and partisan Jeffrey are one and the same on this issue. And excuse me for falling on my academic training to use history to point out commonalities, when I see them. It's just a habit. Yes, this is as much an experiment as was racial integration and gender integration in our military. And it is an experiment, if history is a guide that the military will rise to in ways that will make us proud.

I have concerns about repealing DADT as well, but my concerns are different from the combat troops and Marines. My concern is that for those who are worried that "gays are using the military to get a high profile American institution to signal that they are normal" might decide to forget their training should the repeal come through.

hscfree said...

I think it's silly to suggest that the terms gay and straight cannot be defined; they are clearly defined. Your question should be who considers themselves gay, straight or otherwise. I am gay because I am sexually attracted to member of my same sex. My brothers and sister are straight becasue they are sexually attracted to members of the opposite sex. Interestingly, all of us are physically capable of having sex with anyone, regardless of gender. But, I will assume Anon, that you have never had the desire to have sex with a member of your same sex. Now, does that make you more straight than the woman who hooked up with other women for shits and giggles, or to please the men in their lives, who yet identify as straight? Or what about the married guy who got a single blow job from a dude when he was in college, and no other same sex sexual contact since that time? Is he straight?

You frame the behaviour argument in a single direction, and I have a problem with that. I always will. Think of it as like my belief in a higher power. I know my sexual orientation, and there is little that one can do to change that. Can I change my behavior? I suppose if I were forced, I could have sex with a woman, but that wouldn't change who I am, and I suspect I could say the same about you. I guess.

Gay folks, and I think this also plays into the DADT discussion, are not immature adolescents who cannot control themselves around people who are the same gender. If that were the case, we would have been having thousands of reports of same sex sexual misconduct coming out of the military. Now I know someone who could speak to that, and it's a good question. However, if it were true, it would have been all over the news with this debate.

I trust people to be professional and respectful in the military, and to follow orders. When that doesn't happen, then there are consequences. The same seems to be the case in all of the other countries where the military has integrated gays (including Israel, which certainly knows about combat), where problems have been minimal (again, we would know if there were major problems).

My buddy Mike (gay veteran who was partially out during his time in) would likely argue that all of this boils down to "the God virus." But I think that is the wrong direction. It boils down to straight guys being nervous about showering with openly gay guys (women often seem a lot less pressed about this issue, not always, but often).

I need to look up the responses to that question in the survey. I've only skimmed it. And I hope that there is a branch breakdown of answers.

Micheal Sisco said...

Free: I think it's a number of things -- the insecurity about gender roles, the god virus, str8 men worrying if we're gonna touch their junk (a shame that they aren't too concerned about scandals like Tailhook)

Yeah, I served ... Yeah, I was a bit on the "out" side ... Plenty of my fellow service men and women knew and had no problem with it ..

I do find it a bit funny that those like Anon would believe that the "gay problem" has just cropped up ... we have served throughout history, albeit now we want some basic rights (guess we're being all uppity ... thanks for teaching us, by the way)

I will agree with Anon on one thing ... we should leave aside the genetic vs. behavior argument ... because it's all crap. Who cares? If it is genetic, who cares? If it is a choice, who cares?

Sorry ... Apparently social conservatives care, but only insomuch as to make sure we all "choose" to be like them ... praying to Superhero Jesus, voting GOP ... But didn't they "choose" christianity (yeah, the lower case was on purpose)? Don't people "choose" to buy a Snuggie? Both choices, I think, are morally repugnant, but they have every right to bend the knee to the imaginary He-Man (while all wrapped up in a Snuggie) and I'll fight -- and have fought -- to protect those rights ... Shame the other side of the ledger won't do the same.

Not sure about the therapy theory and the "keep a gay, lose a str8" theory is classic slippery slope (still waiting for the dog and cat marriage in Massachusetts, and the other places where gays can marry) ... and correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't making sure that I don't get bounced for sucking a dick in the privacy of my own home constitute a bit of employment protection?

Just call me partisan, I guess ...

Micheal Sisco said...

Free: I take it back. It's the god virus, after all ... On every plank of the social conservative agenda -- from same-sex marriage, to Head Start -- the major influence of the GOP is the bible, or rather a slavish -- and selective -- literalism to the writings of first-century morons.

When I was in the USN, the subject of gayness really wasn't all that big a topic of concern -- at least among the people I served with. What is it about insecure old str8 men (and I really do think it's a bit of insecurity at play) that says the minute DADT is shit-canned, the military will suddenly become some horrible "Caligula" remake (as if the original was a "good" movie)? When DADT is repealed, I have no doubt that some soldier, seaman or airman -- or even a Marine -- will test the bounds (coming to inspection dressed as Lady Ga Ga or some such), but he'll be bounced for violating the UCMJ, not because of what he does when he's off duty.

And another thing ... what the hell is wrong with having an agenda? Isn't there a social conservative agenda? Isn't there a christian agenda? Isn't there a progressive agenda? A human rights agenda?

The bottom line is that I want to be treated no better or worse than anyone else ... I want to be treated for my character (job performance, etc.) and NOT what I do in my bedroom with another adult male ...

Military effectiveness ... Will the Marine NOT shoot as straight (pardon the pun) knowing that his foxhole bud might be gay? Will the sailor launching that Harpoon hesitate over the button if he thinks the CO might be boning another guy when he gets shore liberty? Will the pilots of Loving 11 (a squadron I had the pleasure of knowing when I was stationed in Iceland) suddenly miss the runway because of those evil fags in their midst? ... Concerns ... I think that if you poll the average grunt walking a post in Afghanistan, he'll be a little more "concerned" with a Taliban nutjob drawing a bead on him than he will about two guys wrasslin' around all naked ... But I understand the term ... it's just vague enough to elicit those "red phone" fears without being specific enough to actually debate ...

The concern, to put it bluntly, to McCain and the rest of the GOP is that James Dobson will have a colossal shit fit if DADT is repealed ... the concern is that the purpose driven life dude will make their lives miserable ...

CRAP! ... There I go again ... being all partisan ...

hscfree said...

@Anon: Did you delete your reply? I got a notice (three times) showing a comment that is no longer among the comments, and I now don't see it here.

hscfree said...

Right now, I am listening the Joint Chiefs Chair Mullen, and something dawned on me. Anon asked what this policy change will do for me. My answer is simple. I will feel that my country is moving closer to the more perfect union that we have sought since our founding (and I think I have a few months left before I am too old to join the military). Just as Massachusetts allowing gay marriage had no direct effect on me, but I felt an even stronger sense that my country was moving in the right direction, a direction where I, and people like me (gay people), can live my life more fully.

Anonymous said...

Regarding Mr. Sisco:

There is nothing wrong with being partisan, but I tend to think of Jeffrey as an intellectual. I read the blog to try to hear his unique thoughtful perspective on the world. For me, intellectual inquiry means that there are rarely obvious villains and heroes. There are a lot of gray zones and good ideas and good faith on all sides. Intellectuals struggle with issues, they don’t deliver talking points. I know what a knee jerk liberal or conservative thinks on most issues. I want see Jeffrey wrestle with issues. When he is playing gotcha or scoring political points, or just simply linking to some liberal hit piece, or echoing MSNBC or the Daily Show I don’t find it that interesting. Those venues exist, I can watch them if I want to. That’s just my bias as a reader.

It’s interesting that YOU are the one that one that has brought God into the discussion. It seems you have a lot of energy about people of faith and the church. I thought liberals were suppose to be tolerant of a wide variety of views.

Labeling something as a “slippery slope” doesn’t mean that it’s not a legitimate concern. If you think that having gays serving openly in the military is not going to raise questions about transgender rights in the military than you should say why, I think it will. In the wake of gay marriage you may label questions about polygamy and incest “the slippery slope” but it’s not clear why those are not legitimate concerns. Don’t polygamists have “civil rights?”

I mention the choice/biology issue because gay rights advocates for years have argued that being gay was not a choice. If it were it a choice there would be much less of a foundation for asserting rights.

Your tone does not strike me as one of reflection and deliberation; it’s more to attack people who don’t agree with you. That’s too bad.

Micheal Sisco said...

Part II

Thing is, I have a suspicion that you can't. And your side never could. Your basic argument is that the majority of Americans are uncomfortable with same sex marriage, or same-sex anything. Your argument is that it is "against" marriage and that our "choice" violates traditional gender roles -- though you can't say how, without relying on the scriptures. It's a shame that you don't use those same scriptures to deal with divorce ... but that's a whole 'nuther kettle of beans ...

I am uncomfortable about snuggies and disco. But, alas, I see the commercials for those infernal garments and sometimes have to change the radio dial away from the soundtrack to "Saturday Night Fever." But, as much as I think that they violate everything that is sacred and holy, I'll fight for their right to prance under the disco ball and curl up on the couch, dressed like some weird monk ...

Is this an attack? Maybe. The "tone" is one borne of frustration, of fatigue. As polemical as I may be, I am not above admitting when I am wrong. Free has corrected me many a time. Thing is, when I am corrected -- especially on the issue of my rights --, I'd like to be corrected based on the Constitution, not the theological shrug of the shoulders and the equivalent of "it just is."

But that's just me ...

Micheal Sisco said...

Anon: Apparently I ran on a bit too long with the first part of the reply and it got kicked out ... Will try my best to both recap and be a bit more brief this time around.

Yup, I am WAY more polemical than Free is. No apologies asked nor given there.

Not sure about the "talking points" thing, if you are implying that I stick to a script ... Unless "I want my rights" is a talking point.

Actually, Free brought god -- and my god virus theory -- into the fray and I'm glad he did. I agree with Sam Harris in that unjustified and unfounded belief has so influenced and corrupted U.S. public policy that it should be considered a moral and intellectual emergency. My views on faith and the faithful have been developed after 30 years of thought, introspection, reading and listening.

Thanks for being a bit more specific about those "concerns" ... it's rare that they are ever spelled out by social conservatives. I find it interesting that polygamy and incest are often linked with "concerns" about same-sex issues. To the best of my knowledge, though, both incest and polygamy are bugbears within the str8 community (at least the well-publicized cases are ...) ... Should we, then, be concerned about Str8 marriage?

My point about the "slippery slope" is that there will be cases that stretch the bounds of right-dom ... always have, always will ... but that does not mean that progress should be halted. The Founders knew the 3/4 Compromise merely put off the issue of slavery. It was fully addressed later, though bloody. No law or policy is all-seeing. We address those outliers when they crop up.

Pegged me wrong on the liberal label. I am a liberal in the tradition of Christopher Hitchens (which is to say not very). I am a true conservative. I want the gov't off my back, out of my bedroom, out of the OB-GYN office. I want our military to scare the living shit out of the world and don't think government should be used for a social -- or christian -- experiment.

Micheal Sisco said...

Part II (Of Part I)

Choice vs. genetics: I conceded the choice point for arguments' sake. If I concede that it is indeed, a choice, then you must instruct me on how that choice damages you, takes away your rights, or threatens the public good.

Fully half of the rights given to us under the Bill of Rights are choice related. You choose to worship. You choose not to quarter the troops. You choose not to incriminate yourself. You choose to write in the newspaper (or this blog). You choose to voice your opinion.

The conceded point that it IS choice would, I think, make for a stronger argument for rights protection under the Constitution, not weaker.

Which brings us back to religion, sort of.

If my rights end where yours begin, I'd really like to know how my actions with another man in the privacy of my bedroom takes away your rights. I'd like to know exactly how a same-sex marriage "threatens" the institution (or puts your marriage -- if you are married -- at risk). And, by extension, I'd like to know how my gayness decreases the unit's effectiveness (since DADT started this merry-go-round). The social conservative argument (or, dare I say, agenda) revolves around traditional family and gender roles spelled out in the scriptures.

If you can tell me how my choice infringes on your rights under the U.S. constitution, I'll be the first one to vote "no" on any same-sex resolution.

Micheal Sisco said...

So much for the debate ... Am still waiting for the Constitution-based arguments for denying us our rights ... but I guess I never expected a reply -- unless the Sunday sermon (or Sarah Palin's latest reason-based Tweet or Facebook post) counts as the argument.
In absence of the other side's well-reasoned, thoughtful, lovingly crafted position, let me say what I think ...
I think we (gay people -- though that might be restricted to gay men) creep you out. It's the "ick" factor writ large. You (general term, not meant to single out anyone) don't like what we do. You don't think it's "natural." Basically, "It's. Just. Fucking. Wrong."
I'll indulge.
I am creepy. I am "ick"-i-fied. I do things that are WAY un-natural with people who are every bit as creepy and icky. We are, alas, going to Hell to burn for all eternity.
But here's the difference between me and you.
I also think you are creepy. I also think you -- and your beliefs -- are un-natural. You -- and your beliefs -- scare the living shit out of me.
But in my world view, we can both occupy the same space. In my world, there's room enough for everyone -- no matter how creepy, icky and un-natural they may be. I may think you are wrong -- profoundly so -- but you still should be able to live, love, marry, work, rent, own, have or adopt children.
You, on the other hand, wish we would just die. True, you are not like those in Muslim lands who take a more active role in seeking our deaths, but the end is the same ... just a bit more prolonged ... You want us marginalized, ostracized, condemned. You don't want us to work, rent, own, start a family, love, petition our government, worship ... You don't want us to "count."
Cover it up with all the genteel language, all the "love the sinner, hate the sin" sloganeering, all the "concerns" at your command, but it doesn't alter those relevant motivations.

Meet the kinder, gentler fires of the Modern Inquisition ...

hscfree said...

@Mike: I think that your point about what these folks want is too broad. Yes, there are some who are all about a "kill the gays" like bill from uganda. But, I think many more people simply want a return to the 1950s, when gays were sort of seen, not really heard, and remained marginalized. It's actually like DADT right now. The problem comes from gay folks actually wanting to live their lives, and wanting equal treatment. That's the problem.

To many, equal treatment means a loss to them, and in a way, that is correct. I know that anon is not a fan of my analogies between gays and blacks, but it doesn't make it any less correct. There were plenty of white southerners who felt that if blacks were granted equal opportunities, then whites would suffer. Black equality meant diminished white privilege. Gay equality will mean diminished straight privilege.

I think I can understand why so many conservatives long for a return to the golden era (1945-1963). That was a brilliant period for the white and the straight. The country was on top. Opportunities were endless for straight (and closeted) white men. There was little to no competition for that hegemonic American world view, even with the rumblings of Civil Rights in the South in the mid-50s. And conservatives aren't necessarily the only ones who long for that period (look at the love for Mad Men). Hell, I think (minus the racial, gender and sexual orientation restrictions) that that period was an incredible one for the country.

Anyway, my point was that I don't think that all those who opposed gay rights want gay folks dead. That is too simplistic. I think that many more just wish us back in the closet. Deep in the closet.

Micheal Sisco said...

Free: Spoken like a true moderate ...
Agreed, social conservatives (for the most part) in the U.S. do not, in fact, want us to die (that's why I distinguished between the U.S and Muslim countries) ... But, for all intents and purposes, our lives under the 1940s and 1950s crowd rules will be just as dead as Elvis. Just not physical death. Either way, dead is dead.

And agreed that, for the 40s and 50s crowd, rights are a zero-sum game ... they cannot be granted to anyone without taking away from someone else (so much for the win-win).

My view may well be simplistic (though I note that conclusions are often "simple" in nature -- that we evolved from simpler life forms is a simplistic statement, but one backed up by a century of thought and not-so-simple mind work -- but are backed up by some pretty convoluted and nuanced thought processes), but I take my cues from William of Occam, who posited that the simplest explanation is most often the best one.

Anonymous said...

What about these folks civil rights?


Anonymous said...

Part 2

By the way, I think you are right to be concerned about the reaction of folks who oppose this change if it is implemented. While I think the majority of people will conduct themselves appropriately, there will be tragedies. Most advocates for the policy change seem to dismiss those concerns.

Also, I framed the behavior in a single direction because that is the issue on the table. Gays, gay behavior, and gay rights are what is being discussed. New straight rights are not being proposed. You have objected to this notion in the past, but there is a well established principle that the burden of proof is on the petitioner.

I would also agree that concern about being sexually assaulted is a significant issue, but the pace and method of social change are also important. Is it done through the courts or through legislatures? You are trying to overturn thousands of years of values in 50 years—that's pretty aggressive. On the sexual assault, I saw Pulp Fiction once, but can't watch it again. Have you ever read about Lawrence of Arabia? In the beginning of his campaign he tried to minimize casualties against the Turks. At some point he was captured by the Turks and, though the details are not known, it is presumed that he was sexually assaulted. From then on he accepted no Turkish prisoners—all were killed. Short of having your family murdered I can imagine nothing more horrific than being sexually assaulted my a man. Most of the straight men I know would literally rather die than suffer such a fate. As you may recall in a recent case in the District the use of deadly force was seen as a reasonable response to a gay assault.

In general I have little sympathy for prisoners, but I would support any effort to protect prisoners from homosexual assault in prison. If we want to protect the worst criminals from homosexual assault, we should certainly do everything we can to prevent our military from the same threat.

If just one gay member of the military assaults someone (it will happen--how can you be so sure that it will NEVER happen) that is one too many. How can you advocate a policy that will increase that likelihood? What if someone were to advocate a policy that would increase lynching, but it only happened to one guy? Wouldn't that be one guy too many?

Anonymous said...

Part 3

Jeffrey—thanks for making a stand for reasonableness. I certainly don't want to see anyone die or be killed. Mr. Sisco mistakes my disagreement with the gay public policy agenda for some kind of hatred. I disagree with Jeffrey on a lot of things, but I enjoy our friendship—it seems Mr. Sisco cannot conceive of such a distinction.

I am mostly concerned about the means of progressing the gay agenda and the weak analysis underlying it. I think that gay issues should move forward by engaging and convincing citizens of their worthiness. I won't spend a lot of time on it, but judicial remedies, though I understand their appeal, have deep negative consequences which will last generations. To cite just one, in order for the courts to serve their role in society, they need to be seen as legitimate. I think the activism on the left (in the 60s and the 70s) and the judicial activism on the right (they learned it from the left) that we sometimes see today make courts seem like they are a venue for politics by other means. That hurts the courts (and the country) In the long run.

On gay marriage—the gay agenda is to redefine marriage. I have yet to see an analysis why that definition should be re-written to give gays what they want, but to not give polygamists and incestuous couples what they want? If anything, it would be intellectually consistent to re-define it to allow polygamy and and incest, as long as it was consensual. In other words, if you are drafting a new definition of marriage, why give the gays what they want, but not give the other interest groups what they want? If “justice” or “rights” (as an aside I don't see serving in the military as a “right,” lots of people are ineligible to serve, the old, the infirm, the overweight, etc. ) are the goal then why not give these other groups their rights? And if “consent” is the key to determining who can get married what about the emancipated minor who wants to marry a 60 year old? I”m not trying to be inflammatory, but trying to understand the reasoning, which seems to be flawed, or at least, timid.