March 13, 2007

Unacceptable Opinions

Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, infuriated many yesterday when he said in an interview that he thought homosexual behavior was immoral, and likened it to adultery:

Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Monday that he supports the Pentagon's "don't ask, don't tell" ban on gays serving in the military because homosexual acts "are immoral," akin to a member of the armed forces conducting an adulterous affair with the spouse of another service member.

Responding to a question about a Clinton-era policy that is coming under renewed scrutiny amid fears of future U.S. troop shortages, Pace said the Pentagon should not "condone" immoral behavior by allowing gay soldiers to serve openly. He said his views were based on his personal "upbringing," in which he was taught that certain types of conduct are immoral.

As you may imagine, all the usual suspects were there to quickly condemn Pace's comments, including one liberal blogger that hoped to organized a petition drive to have him fired. To date, Pace refuses to apologize.

I've got very mixed feelings about this particular story.

I personally dislike "don't ask, don't tell."

The official military position, as I understand it, is that they don't want openly gay soldiers serving in the military because it could cause dissention in the ranks. As openly gay soldiers have served in armies worldwide for thousands of years--including our Greek friends portrayed in the now-playing "300"--I find that argument especially weak, if not insulting to our soldiers. Are proponents of "don't ask, don't tell" trying to convince us that our military men and women are so fickle, mentally weak and easily rattled that the mere presence of openly gay soldiers in the ranks is enough to topple our military, or at the very least, reduce its combat effectiveness? If so, our top generals must be far more afraid of Cirque du Soleil than al Qaeda.

No, I think that "don't ask, don't tell" comes down to anti-gay bigotry in our military, which is notoriously conservative (and I mean socially, not politically, though that probably applies as well). The policy implemented during the Clinton Administration was a mistake then, and continues to be a mistake now, causing the military to lose potential applicants that are intelligent, skilled, and otherwise exemplary material, solely on the basis of sexual preference. We have lost good soldiers because of this, as well as intelligence assets, including Arab linguists that are already in short supply. "Don't ask, don't tell" is hurting the War against Islamic terrorism in very measurable ways.

But for all that is wrong with the policy, I'm even more appalled by the hysterical responses of some of those who have taken issue with Pace's comments. Apparently, Pace's opinion is too much to handle for some oppressively self-righteous gay advocates, including one that is calling for Pace to resign, and another, John Aravosis, that shrieks so shrilly that it only reinforces the stereotype that some in the military have against allowing gays to serve. Apparently, these blogger-advocates are quite content to exercise their freedom of speech, while attempting to punish Pace for exercising his. What they advocate is nothing less than censorship, pure and simple, and in a hysterically cartoonish way at that.

If John Aravosis, Pam Spaulding, etc want to help convince our military that allowing gay and lesbian soldiers to serve openly is in our nation's best interests, then by all means, they should help develop a compelling case to prove to Congress and the military that is policy is outdated and counterproductive. If advocates truly want gay and lesbian Americans to have the opportunity to serve their country, then they should fight for that right with logic, reason, and intelligence.

Instead, they attempt to claim victim status once again, and hope to shame Pace into retracting his comments, or force his resignation. Quite simply, they hurt their cause with a call for censorship instead of reasoned debate.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at March 13, 2007 03:14 PM

Actually, GEN Pace has apologized, just not for having opinions:

Posted by: SGT Jeff (USAR) at March 13, 2007 03:39 PM

I agree with the idea behind the policy for the simple reason that in the military there are, at least in some instances, still communal showers and there should be the expectation that you are not showering in the presence of someone who finds you sexually attractive, without your consent or knowledge. There is a simple solution, build private showers. I don't like the policy, but I can understand how a person regardless of gender or sexual orientation may not like the idea that he or she is being ogled by someone they are not, nor would be interested in.

Posted by: Ennuipundit at March 13, 2007 03:46 PM

Sgt Jeff: Thanks for the URL about Pace. Yes, I think Pace apologized very well. He is dedicated to serve his country, and follow orders from above, even if he, personally has a problem with it. I, personally have no problem with gays in the military, or anywhere else, and I don't like the bad faith approach of "don't ask don't tell'. Sexuality is often very inconvenient in military life. Canada has openly gay/lesbian soldiers, and they manage. Militaries have always had gays, lesbians, and heteros, living cheek by jowl. Winston Churchill (who was Lord of the Admiralty twice) remarked that sodomy in the Royal Navy was endemic and perennial.

Posted by: DemocracyRules at March 13, 2007 06:17 PM

My view on allowing openly gay folks to serve is mixed -- I don't think that anyone shuold be denied the opportunity to serve, but I'm not so sure that the Marine Corps is quite ready for it quite yet. Let them serve, but make sure to budget in the insane amount of man hours that will be spent on legal proceedings.

It always irritates me when high-level representatives make irresponsible comments like that. From the time a person steps on the yellow foot prints at recruit training, they are told that they are ambassadors of the Marines Corps 24/7, and that they will be held to the highest standards at all times. If comment like that made to the media by a Lance Corporal would cause shockwaves and result in punishment, why should he be any different?

Making the comparison to adultry is ridiculous too -- adultry is rampant to the point of almost expected in the armed services. What happens on deployment stays on deployment, right?

Posted by: paully at March 13, 2007 06:23 PM

Are proponents of "don't ask, don't tell" trying to convince us that our military men and women are so fickle, mentally weak and easily rattled that the mere presence of openly gay soldiers in the ranks is enough to topple our military, or at the very least, reduce its combat effectiveness?

It's not the military's fault that our civilian leadership can't get their shit together and come to a consensus on whether openly gay Americans should be allowed to serve in uniform. For the record, I think they should. And, since it's a civvie issue, I think Gen. Pace was out of line amking such public statements.

"Don't ask, don't tell" isn't my idea of a perfect compromise either, but I've come to respect it much more after my hitch in the service. Here's why. Prior to 1992, gay Americans who wanted to serve were forced to lie on their entry paperwork, providing a ready made character-flaw (dishonesty) to be used against them later.

But "don't ask" is a legal order, follow it, and you can serve as a gay American with your honor intact. Without denying who you are. It's not perfect, but hey, life isn't fair. And for me, it was more important to do my bit for the war effort than it was to flaunt my sexuality for activist purposes. There are plenty others like me, I assure you. All made possible by "don't ask."

(BTW, I was an Arabic linguist, followed my orders, and was rewarded with a trip to Iraq and a chance to do the job I signed up to do. Please don't buy into this "Gay Arabic linguinsts will win the war!" hype of the gay activist Left. They're simply seizing on news of linguist shortfalls for their own cynical ends. They don't give a shit about winning. And I'm posting as Anon because I want to remain elidgble to go back if recalled. Something these high minded activists will never understand.)

Posted by: Anon at March 13, 2007 06:34 PM

It is hard to justify allowing openly gay soldiers to serve when we don't allow openly adulterous hetero soldiers to room together. The issue is not that gay people serve, but that the military must give official cognizance and protection to them beyond that offered to hetero soldiers. Here are only a few concerns that soldiers have raised with openly gay people in the military as a protected class not subject to the same UCMJ that the rest of us are:
- Lesbian Drill Sergeants recruiting from enlistees. This already happens, but the policy change would protect them.
- Gay leaders assign dangerous duty to someone other than their lover, as will happen among heteros when we fully integrate women into the combat branches.
- Barracks being separated into Gay and Straight ssections, just like they used to be separated by race.
The military exists to fight our wars, not serve as a social experiment.

Posted by: Old_dawg at March 13, 2007 06:37 PM

The military has no say in the matter. The ban on open homosexual conduct is federal law, passed by Congress. (10 USC 654)

And it's fun to note that the policy is a ban on conduct, not status. You can be straight as an arrow, but if you engage in homosexual conduct, you can be separated.

Conversely, you can be gay as can be, but if you don't act on it, you're fine.

Posted by: Army Lawyer at March 13, 2007 06:44 PM

If homosexuals get to shower with those they are attracted to, then hetrosexuals should sue to be able to have the same rights as gays. That is to be able to shower with members of the oposite sex. Like a previous poster stated, the military is not a social experiment. They are trained to kill people and break things. We pay them to do it better than anyone else. Considering what is at stake when we utilize our military. Anything that hinders the operation thereof, and that should be left to those doing the job, should be banned. That is, only if victory in battle is a priority. Hence the lefts mission to include openly gay people in the military.

Posted by: Zelsdorf Ragshaft III at March 13, 2007 08:43 PM

Maybe Gen.Pace,by stating his true opinion, wants to be fired. Maybe he doesn't care for the CIA's Gates oversight of the Pentagon. Didn't the Sec. of the Army also resign the other day over the Walter Reed stink? Perhaps there's just unhappiness with the new CIA overlords/Democrats promotion of the Walter Reed scandal and their continual attack on the US military.

Posted by: Bob at March 13, 2007 09:14 PM

It's pretty bad precedent to apologize for your opinions.

Posted by: Kevin at March 13, 2007 09:40 PM

when you get thirsty do you pour water in your ear?

when you get hungry do you put food on top of your head?

no; it's not normal or natural.

so... why is it okay for a man who is horny to wanna put his blank inside another man's blank?

just asking.

i mean: is there such a thing as deviancy or not?

does it matter if it has a genetic component or not?

pedophiles may have a genetic diathesis for attraction to children. addicts to drugs.

does that make pedophilia and drug addiction normal or okay?

just asking.

seems to me normal is a very useful thing for societies.

sure sure sure: so too is liberty.

but liberty without natural law is libertinage.
and "do what thou wilt" cannot be the whole of the law without lawlessness breaking out all over.

bottom-line: hate the sin; love the sinner.
treat non-normal people with the respect they deserve and within the law.

as for the military: old dawg and zr3 make good points.

Posted by: RELIAPUNDIT at March 13, 2007 10:03 PM

I agree with the General that homosexuality is immoral. The Scriptures are too plain. The fact is I was in the Navy in the 80s and joined the Army for the sole purpouse of going to Iraq. I was in Yusefiah where 2 of my comrades were kidnapped and brutally murdered and I got 3 purple hearts. I dont think that gays should be in the military. I am sure that women would not want a bunch of men taking showers with them and lusting after them in the showers. I know for a fact that when I had to take a shower with other soldiers that if I knew there was a gay in there I definatly would just have to go dirty. I would not want a man that was gay in the shower looking and lusting. It just makes common sense just like men dont take showers with women and vice versa. Neither straight men nor women would want to be lusted after anytime by the same sex but especially when at war. We have enough problems and this is just common sense. If I knew before enlistment that I would have to take a shower and undress in front of men who lusted after me I would not join.

Posted by: Forrest Langley at March 14, 2007 12:18 AM

The shower trailers in nearby Mahmudiyah have single stalls, so don't worry about a gay dude looking at your ding ding. Gay dudes are in the military right now, and I'm sure one of them has seen you naked. OH NO!

Posted by: brando at March 14, 2007 03:53 AM

I have two comments. First, when you join the military, you give up certain rights. One of those rights is the freedom to live where you want to live and who you want to live with. If they say you have to move into barracks and share a living space with another soldier not of your choosing, its basic respect for the individual that he or she shouldn't be housed with someone who is sexually attracted to them. What would happen if a college forced a homosexual to room with a hetersexual who didn't want to live with the other? Who's rights are being violated? The second point is not PC, but harsh reality. There is a lot of sex going on in Co-Ed military units. LOTS and it can't be stopped. Enlisted with enlisted, NCOs with enlisted, officers with NCOs. Its just a fact that one has to deal with. All co-ed units have their soap operas to deal with, some are worse than others. Letting gays serve openly will make matters worse, much worse, not only for the Co-Ed combat service and services support units, but our frontline combat units.

Posted by: BohicaTwentyTwo at March 14, 2007 08:49 AM

Army Lawyer - thanks for the info. I had always been under the impression that the policy was a presidential order.

10 USC 654 is part of Public Law 103-160, enacted in November 1993.

Who controlled Congress in 1993? Who signed the bill into law in 1993?

It also appears (I am not a lawyer) that 10 USC 654 has been upheld several times by the Supreme Court.

The point is, those laying the blame on (any) president, the pentagon, generals or admirals, the defense department, or secretaries of Defense, Army, Navy, Air Force, etc. are being dishonest.

The root of the law lies within Congress. The President is executing the law and all the others are following the law - whether they personally agree with it or not.

People that truly believe this law to be bad should be pounding on Congress.

Those who believe that politics must occur will beat on the President, Pentagon, and Defense instead, because they can get more camera time and print space.

Posted by: SouthernRoots at March 15, 2007 12:02 PM