Thursday, December 23, 2010

Don't Ask Do Tell

This week's Libertarian Politics Live covered Don't Ask Don't Tell and specifically dealt with the question of should gays serve openly in the military. The Guests were Bob Marshall and Rick Sincere, but the biggest shocker was Eric Dondero, the founder and owner of LPL, going off about the subject, possibly in a way you would not have imagined, but more on that later.

I suggest that you listen to the show in its entirety from the link above, but I will give you the really short version. Bob Marshall was the christian conservative using a priori reasoning to basically justify his position of being against gays in the military without having to say it was based on conservative christian values. Bob Sincere was on the other end of the spectrum, saying gays should be able to serve openly, that they already serve with distinction and nothing will change if they do serve openly. Eric served  as the hysterical white male that thinks the military will be turned into effete latte sipping cacasotti if gays are allowed to openly serve, because all the real men will leave.

The point is moot now that the congress has acted and passed legislation allowing gays to serve openly. That said, I will give you my points as I couldn't get a word in edgewise during the show.

Prior to the new law, the federal government prohibited discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, genetic information, or age. Further, denying employment opportunities to a person because of marriage to, or association with, an individual of a particular race, religion, national origin, or an individual with a disability is also prohibited. Title VII also prohibits discrimination because of participation in schools or places of worship associated with a particular racial, ethnic, or religious group.

So, in effect, the military was in their right not to let gays serve openly or at all, regardless of the political backlash. That said, Mr Marshall and Dondero had weak cases.

Mr Marshall's case revolved around the increased cost of healthcare for the military if gays served openly. It also revolved around the premise that if they are allowed, most of the straight military will not re-enlist. I would think it's specious to assume that the military's healthcare costs will increase because gays serve openly. What I think he assumes is that if they serve openly, they will have sex and if they do not serve openly, they will not. The implication is that if gays have sex, they will get HIV, which leads to AIDS. May be part of his thinking process is that the repeal of DADT will somehow cause a population explosion  of gays in the military. I guess we'll see if he is right on that one, but I would tell him that gays in the military are having sex, whether or not DADT exists and the risks of contracting HIV are equally there if they serve openly or not.

As far as straights not re-enlisting, well, that also remains to be seen. As someone from the largest city in America, I have had to work and go to school with people of all stripes, colors, orientations and background. As long as the situation is focused on the work at hand, it never mattered and it never did. I don't care what someone's sexual orientation is, what race they are, where they were born, what language they speak, how old they are or whatever, I will treat them with the same basic respect. Judge the content of someone's character...Anyway, it's a big world out there and if someone won't serve with someone that is openly gay, then may be good riddance. I bet the position will be filled with someone that is superior anyway.

As to Eric's argument, his was based on his own experiences in the Navy in the 1980's. He regaled, with incredible emotion and vitriole, his experiences aboard ship with gay shipmates. The case in particular was about a gay shipmate that came back drunk from leave and proceded to give oral sex to another shipmate whilst he was asleep. The sailor awakened to this and according to Eric, charges were never brought up, as the Navy was PC even back then. Eric further asserted that he could not ogle female sailors in the shower, so why do they have to allow gays as he would feel uncomfortable and what would his wife think.

Well, if a gay male sailor is ogling another sailor and making advances, it is harassment and should be dealt with accordingly. It doesn't matter what the combinations of sexual orientation are. Equal rights demand equal responsibilities and those that cross the line should be held accountable, always. If they aren't, having DADT doesn't solve the problem. It'll happen anyway and I will say, that Eric knew this sailor was gay before his illicit act, so he can't plead that ignorance or abstinence would have improved the situation. It happened. I would also add that to hear Eric go off, the thought crossed my mind if Eric was in fact the sailor that got the blow job. Did he finish Eric? :) Me thinks the blogger protests too much. I would also wonder how Eric's wife feels about him bragging on the same show that he's screw any woman or may be it was any good looking one. Between that and his insistence that the military was for men to be manly and virile, I have to again, wonder what his deal is. The military is our defense as well as the strong arm of our foreign policy. The military trains to break shit, blow things up and kill people. They also can provide logistical and support services, like they did in Haiti. If that defines what a man is, I guess so. I think Eric's definition of what a soldier is, is a little two dimensional. The military today is a volunteer one and a professional one. They are the best of the best, gay or not, and they do their jobs well. Being gay should be the least of their problems. Also, women serve in the military. Are all of them manly and virile too?

The heart of the problem for me is to preemptively tell someone that they will be punished or sanctioned before a bad behavior is committed. It presumes guilt, that if they serve openly, they will do behaviors that are unlawful, yet not adjudicatable in Eric and Bob's mind. If that is their worry, then pursue justice on a case by case basis when people do cross the line. The question,  should gays serve openly or not is specious. Do straight people have a litmus test? None of it should matter. What I will tell Rick Sincere is although I find Bob and Eric's arguments specious and a priori, I also do not believe in special privileges or special rights. My point is that it doesn't matter, it shouldn't matter. No agendas, no superior rights for anyone. The trick is, is that good enough for both sides of the issue? The problem with groups, tribes and mobs, is that they always want to be right, they want a leg up and to have the upper hand. Like Rand, I don't particularly like the mob at all and often it uses it's coercive force on individuals in spite of the facts, in spite of the truth, in spite of what's rational, in order to preserve or achieve power. Rand said "The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities." Of course I must add that Rand also thought homosexuality is a mental disorder, but that is another story. I also expect to get challenged as some would say there is wisdom in the mob. Well, which one? Who chooses? Coercive forces are just that, not reason. Jefferson said that "rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others." This is the true test of what is right, decent and good, not an antediluvian mob. 

Thank you for reading this blog.


H├ęctor said...

This is, truly, one of your brightest posts so far. And that's saying something.

The Right Guy said...

Thanks Hector, now I need a bigger hat. :)

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