My Thoughts On Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Repeal

By Justin Gardner | Related entries in Military, Sexuality

As the saying goes…worth a thousand words.



And scene.


This entry was posted on Thursday, December 23rd, 2010 and is filed under Military, Sexuality. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

14 Responses to “My Thoughts On Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Repeal”

  1. Tillyosu Says:

    Repeal may have been alright for all the dental assistants, truck drivers, and other pogues (for lack of a better term) in the military, but it’s a very bad idea for combat troops. And that’s probably why a majority of combat troops opposed repeal.

    As a former infantry soldier, I can tell you, that allowing homosexuals to serve openly in front line units is a very bad idea. It will damage unit cohesiveness, and risk the safety of homosexuals.

    Justin, I’m going to take a wild guess here and assume that you’ve never served in an infantry unit. Let me tell you, when you’re in the military, there are combat troops, and then there’s everybody else. Combat units are distinctly different. They just have different requirements and standards. Heterosexual fraternity is as important a part of infantry life as is training.

    And don’t throw the “ya there was a time when we didn’t let blacks fight” argument at me. There are two problems with this argument. First, homosexuals were perfectly free to serve, they just weren’t allowed to serve openly (so that tee shirt you’ve got up makes no sense). Second, unlike race, homosexuality involves an activity, a lifestyle. And it just happens to be a lifestyle that doesn’t comport with infantry life.

    I predict a myriad of problems with this terrible decision.

  2. kranky kritter Says:

    That survey should not be dismissed, of course. But it does ask for respondents to draw a speculative conclusion: “will homosexuals serving in combat adversely affect unit cohesion?” We also don’t know whether soldiers think the adverse affects will be to the gay soldiers or those who can’t stomach homosexuality and act very pissy about it.

    In a year or two, the military can ask soldiers Does the presence of open homosexuals adversely affect unit cohesion?

    It can also ask soldiers whether they think the problem is due to the gay soldiers or the homophobes?

    Yet another aspect of the change is this: now that the military can ask and the soldiers can tell, will they? It makes sense to me that military would be very well served to continue not asking. By so doing, that makes it easy for gay soldiers to choose not to tell or to be very discrete without fear of discovery leading to expulsion.

    That’s what I expect. And I expect military culture to evolve just enough that the norm is a form of acceptance that expects gay soldiers not to be in-your-face about their sexuality.

    I predict that there will be a few ongoing problems until the majority of homophobes remaining in the military no longer are. After that, it will be fine.

  3. Chris Says:

    Tilly that is not even remotely surprising.

  4. blackout Says:

    “First, homosexuals were perfectly free to serve, they just weren’t allowed to serve openly”

    Yes, clearly more blacks would have served if they could only have kept everyone from noticing they were black. I generally have a great deal of respect for the caliber and intelligence (intellectual and emotional) of those serving in our military, Tilly, but I’ll make an exception in your case.

  5. blackout Says:

    “now that the military can ask and the soldiers can tell, will they?”

    Um, yeah. This has always been the rather obvious rejoinder to the groundless fearmongering of Tilly and ilk. What’s always so interesting to me is how the stance of that group is implicitly insulting to our armed forces. Yeah, they can put their lives on the line in the world’s most hostile environments but gay is their kryptonite. Keep tugging on that thread, homophobes.

  6. Tully Says:

    Will it affect unit cohesion? Yep, just as racial integration did for a while. This too shall pass, though there’s sure to be some bumps on that ride.

    Article 125 still applies outside the confines of Lawrence v. Texas, as many hetero troopers have discovered. As do standing orders about sex in combat zones, fraternization, etc. Best to keep that flirting and humping off duty and off base and never across the command lines, because straight or gay, there are consequences.

  7. Tillyosu Says:

    I wonder KK, and blackout, are there any sexual practices that either of you find morally objectional and/or repulsive? If so, does that indicate that you have a clinical fear of those practices? I’d suspect your answers are “yes” and “no”, respectively.

    But then why do you so easily bandy about the term “homophobe?” Just because I and many other Americans view the practice of homosexuality as either morally objectional or physically repulsive, doesn’t mean that we are somehow afraid of homosexuals or homosexuality. And if your standards for clinical diagnosis are so low, does that make you homophiles?

    Of course, you could assert that my opposition to open homosexuality in the military is irrational, and therefore must stem from some irrational fear of homosexuality. But is it really irrational?

    All I asserted was that a combat unit environment was different from other work environments, including other military specialties. Members work in incredibly close quarters. They often shower together, sleep together, and share foxholes together.

    Now, don’t you agree that homosexuals working in this kind of environment, composed entirely of males, will inevitably develop some sort of sexual desire for one or more of their fellow soldiers? (And before you go jumping all over me for characterizing homosexuals as unrestrained sexual predators – that’s not what I’m saying at all. It would be perfectly natural for them to do so, just as it would be perfectly natural for me to develop a sexual desire for one or more female coworkers if I worked in the same environment with all females). In fact, it would be preposterous to assert otherwise.

    And don’t you further agree that heterosexual combat soldiers have a right to work in an environment where they are not at risk of becoming the object of desire for another soldier? (An unwelcome desire, I’m assuming, for every heterosexual soldier). And wouldn’t introducing that element into that particular military environment necessarily damage unit cohesion?

    I’ll give you the perfect example. When we went to Alaska to do cold weather training (my unit was from Hawaii, so we were not particularly accustomed to the cold), we flew far out into the field to start exercises. We were a long way from medevac. Shortly after touching down, we had a few soldiers go down from hypothermia. Since medevac was so far away, their squad leaders had to strip down and get into a sleeping bag with them to keep them warm until help arrived.

    Now, if I am that soldier who went down from hypothermia, is it really irrational/unreasonable/denoting some clinical fear to demand that the soldier who is getting into that sleeping bag with me will not derive some sort of sexual gratification from it? Of course not, just as it wouldn’t be unreasonable for a female soldier to demand that she not be put in a sleeping bag, naked, with a male soldier, or that she not be forced to shower, or sleep with a male soldier.

    My point is that there are legitimate reasons for opposing open homosexuality in combat units. Sure, there may be some irrational fear of homosexuality for some members of the military, but I seriously doubt that 60% of combat troops are clinical homophobes. And for you to assert that those who do oppose it are simply homophobic, indicates nothing more than intellectual laziness on your part.

  8. Tully Says:

    Tillyosu,

    I’m curious. In what respect would your objections differ if the armed forces were being fully integrated with respect to gender? Are you also against women in the military? Would your objections to such integration indicate that you had a moral objection to heterosexuality, or that you found heterosexual practices repulsive?

    The Brits have not had any significant problems with gays serving in the military since they dumped their ban on same a decade back (2000). The Israelis have not had any significant problems (1993). Australia has not had any significant problems (1992). Canada has not had any significant problems (1992). One could go on and on, but the basic fact is that in each and every one of those nations, the same arguments were advanced, and after decades of collective experience there has been no evidence that those fears have been realized. I won’t say the concerns are illegitimate, because they are very real ones with ANY change in military culture, but real-world experience in multiple nations strongly suggests that the fears are way overblown.

    Are we as Americans so much less tolerant of gays that we expect our experience to be substantially different than that of those other nations?

  9. Chris Says:

    “And don’t you further agree that heterosexual combat soldiers have a right to work in an environment where they are not at risk of becoming the object of desire for another soldier? (An unwelcome desire, I’m assuming, for every heterosexual soldier). And wouldn’t introducing that element into that particular military environment necessarily damage unit cohesion?”

    This right here is hilarious, it also shows how delusional and ignorant you are.

  10. kranky kritter Says:

    But then why do you so easily bandy about the term “homophobe?” Just because I and many other Americans view the practice of homosexuality as either morally objectional or physically repulsive, doesn’t mean that we are somehow afraid of homosexuals or homosexuality. And if your standards for clinical diagnosis are so low, does that make you homophiles?

    Really? Semantics? That’s all you’ve got. I dunno about “easily bandying.” I though I was just using a commonly understood term to describe your forthrightly declared views. If there another term you prefer? If you want, I can call you “anti-homosexual” instead. Would that do?

    Of course, you could assert that my opposition to open homosexuality in the military is irrational, and therefore must stem from some irrational fear of homosexuality. But is it really irrational?

    Why not stick to trying to refute an argument that I actually did make, instead of one you’ve imagined.

    All I asserted was that a combat unit environment was different from other work environments, including other military specialties. Members work in incredibly close quarters. They often shower together, sleep together, and share foxholes together.

    I don’t think anyone has disagreed with that.

    Now, don’t you agree that homosexuals working in this kind of environment, composed entirely of males, will inevitably develop some sort of sexual desire for one or more of their fellow soldiers? (And before you go jumping all over me for characterizing homosexuals as unrestrained sexual predators – that’s not what I’m saying at all. It would be perfectly natural for them to do so, just as it would be perfectly natural for me to develop a sexual desire for one or more female coworkers if I worked in the same environment with all females). In fact, it would be preposterous to assert otherwise.

    Sure, I agree it’s possible. Even likely in some instances. This is another thing I don’t think anyone has disagreed with, or would disagree with.

    And don’t you further agree that heterosexual combat soldiers have a right to work in an environment where they are not at risk of becoming the object of desire for another soldier? (An unwelcome desire, I’m assuming, for every heterosexual soldier). And wouldn’t introducing that element into that particular military environment necessarily damage unit cohesion?

    I think that all soldiers have the right not to be subjected to unwelcome sexual advances. Anyone who makes unwelcome sexual advances should be dealt with. You seem to be arguing that heterosexual soldiers have the right to be free from any fear that any homosexual might make such advances, regardless of actual behavior. And that sounds paranoid and childish. In this case, I think “homophobic” applies quite well.

    I’ll give you the perfect example. When we went to Alaska to do cold weather training (my unit was from Hawaii, so we were not particularly accustomed to the cold), we flew far out into the field to start exercises. We were a long way from medevac. Shortly after touching down, we had a few soldiers go down from hypothermia. Since medevac was so far away, their squad leaders had to strip down and get into a sleeping bag with them to keep them warm until help arrived.

    Now, if I am that soldier who went down from hypothermia, is it really irrational/unreasonable/denoting some clinical fear to demand that the soldier who is getting into that sleeping bag with me will not derive some sort of sexual gratification from it? Of course not, just as it wouldn’t be unreasonable for a female soldier to demand that she not be put in a sleeping bag, naked, with a male soldier, or that she not be forced to shower, or sleep with a male soldier.

    What am I missing here? If someone is on the verge of hypothermia, which can lead to brain damage and death pretty quickly, doesn’t “any port in a storm” apply? Don’t get me wrong, if someone with hypothermia says they’d rather die than cuddle with a fag, I guess it’s their right to choose death.

    I seriously doubt that 60% of combat troops are clinical homophobes. And for you to assert that those who do oppose it are simply homophobic, indicates nothing more than intellectual laziness on your part.

    You seem unable to refrain from reducing what I say to simplistic contentions I didn’t make. Laziness? For me to try harder, I’d have to believe you were, you know, open to persuasion.

    Time will quickly prove that homosexual American soldiers are capable of behaving as honorable, respectable adults. The ranks of Americans who view the practice of homosexuality as morally objectional will continue to dwindle. I can’t speak to numbers in the ranks of those who find it physically repulsive. But I imagine such folks will continue to deal with their repulsion the way every one else deals with such visceral responses. People who hate broccoli do not eat it, and they come to realize that there is almost no chance that they will be forced to eat it. Oh, wait, bad example.:-)

  11. blackout Says:

    “I wonder KK, and blackout, are there any sexual practices that either of you find morally objectional and/or repulsive?”

    Sure. Anything involving non-consensual actors or people of an age or diminished mental condition that disallows them from making decisions in their best interests.

    I appreciate Tully’s saving me the time of trotting out the ample evidence of other nations’ militaries not having crumbled into dust following acceptance of openly gay service members.

    I have a strong suspicion that you’d be among the quickest here to assert that our country, and military, are the “greatest in the world”, Tilly. So i ask again: Why are you implying that our troops cannot overcome this? You want to draw distinctions to similar paradigms regarding blacks and women serving, but you fail to acknowledge the clear and common thread which is the implied insult that our troops can’t handle this, as well as the explicit insult to homosexuals that their “passions” are so overwhelming that they’ll be unable to serve in a professional manner. It’s especially disconcerting coming from an ex-service member, as I’d expect you take more pride (pun fully intended) in your ability to adapt and overcome whatever is thrown at you. It’s my expectation that this change only serves to strengthen our military in the long run. I’d suggest that forcing a subset of your unit members to live secret lives might be more damaging to unit cohesion than any which might be caused by revelation. We want the best serving our country, right? It’s cold comfort in a foxhole if the guy who has your back is straight if he’s not the best soldier who could be there.

    As for your paranoid fantasies (a bit of wishcasting on your part?) regarding the manner in which gay men and women form and practice their desires, you clearly are clueless. I’d advise you to start forming some acquaintanceships with actual gay Americans before pursuing this line of debate. You clearly have no idea what you’re talking about.

  12. Chris Says:

    But he has is preconceived notions, misconceptions, stereotypes, and prejudices. Who needs more than that?

  13. Tully Says:

    Blackout, it’s not that I automatically dismiss Tillyosu’s objections. Indeed, I think it would be VERY foolish to implement ANY substantial change in military culture without examining such objections and determining the extent of their rational basis. We’re not talking about inconsequential results if the objections turn out to be substantive — I recall well the state of our military morale in the late ’70s. We don’t want to go back there.

    In this case there is extensive objective evidence to examine those concerns, namely the implementation of the exact same policy in other nation’s military structures. That evidence strongly indicates that in the nations most culturally like ours the feared effects, while they might have occurred, were simply not that deep or enduring as to pose any real danger.

    I have an enormous amount of faith in our military rank & file, our soldiers and sailors, and in their ability to adapt and overcome. If the Aussies, Canadians, Israelis, Brits, New Zealanders, hell, the Argentinians can integrate their forces without any major problems, surely our men and women can.

    The quote on Justin’s T-shirt, by the way, is a shortened version of one from that reviver of American conservatism, one-time GOP presidential candidate and staunch critic of the religious right, Barry Goldwater. “You don’t have to be straight to be in the military; you just have to be able to shoot straight.”

  14. blackout Says:

    “Blackout, it’s not that I automatically dismiss Tillyosu’s objections. ”

    Of course not, and I’d never lend that motive to your remarks. I would, however, have cited the exact same examples for much the same reason. And obviously your penultimate graf is congruent with my thoughts about the implicit slight against our service men and women. I’m continually facinated by the way in which ideologues (of all stripes) will frame their arguments in a manner which unintentionally(?) insults the people whom they seek to protect. That’s a position that is ripe for reappraisal.

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