Patterico's Pontifications

3/21/2006

Go Ahead: Ask and Tell

Filed under: General,Public Policy — Patterico @ 12:12 pm



Pejman says we should scrap “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” I agree.

38 Responses to “Go Ahead: Ask and Tell”

  1. Haven’t I read those same arguments before? They are well written and cogent, no doubt persuasive to those who agree, but they just don’t persuade me. I’m sure that it’s my own fault. But, it seems to me that all who are interested in this subject have already chosen sides, both for and against, with little room for conversion. Its just time to count the votes, yet again.

    Tob

    toby928 (f6a7ec)

  2. My understanding is that gays and lesbians are basically allowed to serve in the military, as long as they don’t flaunt it, don’t make it known, don’t tell. This is effectively a ban on conduct, not a ban on a class of people, as I understand it. In other words, the same type of policy could (and perhaps should) apply to straight people too — and I think that would be a better policy than abandoning “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

    Keep in mind that the military already bans sexual conduct known as “fraternization” regardless of whether it’s gay or straight. I don’t see anything worse about banning the publication of sexual preferences.

    Andrew (08ba2c)

  3. Its about time the policy caught up to where liberals have been for over a decade.

    actus (ebc508)

  4. It’s worth noting that a lot of what happens in the military happens in close quarters. Soldiers often sleep in small pup tents together, there are group showers for the separate genders, armored personnel carriers as well as other modes of transportation require very close personal contact; dormitories and bedrooms often have soldiers sleeping close to each other. This is very different from a typical civilian job. It seems to me that it’s not unreasonable to segregate showers, bedrooms, and the like based on gender. Don’t you think so, Patterico? And if it’s okay to segregate them based on gender, then why not based on announced sexual preference?

    So, this is an economics issue, among other things. Does it make sense to set up additional group showers and the like for announced gay soldiers? Probably not.

    Should a straight soldier be forced into a pup tent with an announced gay soldier? These are real issues. Though it’s uncomfortable to deal with these issues, I’m not sure that the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell policy” is the wrong solution.

    If being gay were more common than being straight, then it might make more sense to require the straight soldiers to “not tell” instead of requiring the gay soldiers to “not tell.” But the simple fact is that being gay is less common (unless a whole lot of people are fibbing).

    Andrew (08ba2c)

  5. The biggest problem with “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is that it enforces a lie. Most service members who are going to be in for more than a hitch or two come across duty which requires a security clearance. At least at the time I applied for a clearance (early 1980s), I was asked very personal questions about my marriage: it was held, quite reasonably, that any married man who cheated on his wife was potentially blackmailable.

    The same logic has to apply to homosexuals: if someone gains knowledge that a service member is homosexual, that person becomes blackmailable. If you cannot even ask the question during the clearance process, you are setting up a big security problem.

    If being homosexual is simply incompatible with military service, than “DADT” should be dropped, the questions should be asked, and homosexuals automatically disqualified; if it isn’t incompatable with military service, then disclosure should not cause discharge.

    Dana (9f37aa)

  6. Dana, that’s a good point. Here’s what DoD says:

    No information about homosexual orientation or conduct obtained during security clearance investigations will be used for separation proceding.

    If a service member is asked about these things at enlistment or afterward, in connection with a security clearance, then there’s no penalty for answering honestly. So, I’m not sure that blackmail would really be a significant issue.

    Andrew (08ba2c)

  7. “the same type of policy could (and perhaps should) apply to straight people too”

    How exactly “could” this policy apply to straight people? Hardly a day goes by when the fact that I’m married doesn’t come up in some way in conversation. How would I then refer to my wife? My (gender ambiguous)life partner?

    The big problem I have with most arguements against DADT is that they assume that being homosexual automatically translates into action of some sort – e.g. homosexual men might share showers, or a tent, or a foxhole with straight men – so what? The only reason this is a problem is if you assume that necessarily means homosexuals are so lacking in self control that they can’t help themselves from making a pass at the straight guy next to them.

    Seems ridiculous to me. You don’t think you’re already sharing a shower at the local Ballys Fitness etc. with gay men?

    C Student (59bfb8)

  8. Gah – mistype. “The problem I have with most arguments FOR DADT . . “

    C Student (59bfb8)

  9. Well, that comment was my weakest one, ’tis true. I was just recalling my time in service. Occasionally, a male soldier’s roommate would bring back a female companion to the room, which usually is quite annoying to the party not participating (a hotel is the more appropriate venue). But that’s neither here nor there!

    “The big problem I have with most arguments against DADT is that they assume that being homosexual automatically translates into action of some sort – e.g. homosexual men might share showers, or a tent, or a foxhole with straight men – so what?” So, are you okay with women soldiers sharing showers, tents, bedrooms and the like with male soldiers? Or is objecting to that ridiculous?

    At Bally’s fitness, there may be gay folks sharing showers with straight folks, but I doubt it that the straight folks like it when the gay folks announce themselves as such. Just a hunch.

    Andrew (08ba2c)

  10. By the way, I don’t “assume that being homosexual automatically translates into action of some sort.” Interestingly, the DADT only applies to ACTION rather than ORIENTATION. I don’t assume that taking such action translates into such action with anyone else.

    Andrew (08ba2c)

  11. Under no circumstances should the military accept homosexuals as a realistic lifestyle even if the AMA or the Psychiatric version of the AMA validates that lifestyle as normal. Moral relativism has nothing to do with military recruiting. It would be better to go back to the draft than to validate homosexuality and the problems (massive STD’s) that come with that Biblically labeled deviant lifestyle.

    Theway2k (992b03)

  12. Here’s another way to look at it. If the policy is scrapped, then you’r basically saying to potential recruits: “You may only serve your country in the military if you’re willing to sleep next to and bathe with people who are avowedly actively gay.” Maybe at some future point in time this would be a fair thing to say to potential new recruits. Or maybe not. As is so horrendously common in American law, the focus has been on only one person’s rights: those of the actively gay person. But there are other people’s rights involved here too.

    Andrew (08ba2c)

  13. There aren’t that many “pup tent” billets. Any unwanted advance is going to be forcefully – and memorably – rebuffed anywhere.

    Reporting anti-gay harassment has often been considered a statement. And many in the service who claim to be gay do it to get out of their enlistment agreement early.

    The Army reflects society and should recruit from all sections, so if there is prejudice in society it will be in the Army also. Deal with it and get on with the mission.

    steve (56739f)

  14. The issue is not necessarily prejudice. There are privacy issues too. Unless you call it prejudice for a guy to object when required to shower with women, or when required to sleep next to women in pup tents OR dormitories OR in a single room in billets. Can’t a guy want some privacy?

    Andrew (08ba2c)

  15. Sorry, Steve. I don’t like DADT, either. I consider it just another piece of Clinton’s sorry legacy. But the Army definitely does not reflect society. It is a world which from a civilian society’s viewpoint is insane — kill or die on orders. Neither is it a place for social experimentation. Hopefully, DADT will soon be a historical accident, not because of politics but because enough sergeants said, “I don’t care, and you better not care, where you or anyone else stick their little @#$$’s. Just pull your weight and carry out your orders or you’ll get my BOOT up your @#$”.

    nk (50d578)

  16. nk, Steve, C Student, and Dana, if you’re going to get rid of DADT, then I’d very much like to hear an explanation of why it wouldn’t also be appropriate to get rid of separate bedrooms for women, separate showers for women, and other such “discrimination.”

    Andrew (08ba2c)

  17. Andrew, I’m not sure you and I entirely disagree. First of all, I think this should have been left entirely to the DoD and politics should have stayed out of it. Second, I think the military is perfectly capable of enforcing a “Don’t tell us, we don’t care” policy. It can accomodate a good soldier regardless of whether his sexual orientation is known or not. Basically, I guess, I object to denying any able-bodied citizen the right to take up arms on behalf of his country just because it is known that he likes boys instead of girls or vice versa. Just what does it have it to do with walking point through a mine field? As for your specific question in comment #16, I personally object to women in combat, but as long as we can afford it why not give them separate showers and barracks? In World War II, I understand, Soviet male and female soldiers slept together. Whatever is necessary, whatever is doable, whatever works.

    nk (32c481)

  18. A point of clarification: My understanding is that the American military does not currently deny any able-bodied citizen the right to take up arms on behalf of his country just because it is known that he LIKES boys instead of girls or vice versa. The military only does so if it is known that he actively pursues that liking.

    nk, you say, “as long as we can afford it why not give THEM separate showers and barracks.” Does that apply only to women, or does it also apply to avowedly active gays and avowedly active lesbians? If it doesn’t apply to the latter, then how would you justicy the distinction?

    Andrew (08ba2c)

  19. So DODT isn’t “social experimentation?” The Army doesn’t officially abide religious, racial, ethnic or gender bias either, but it sure as hell exists in and outside the ranks. To sequester yet another class – afraid unconventional off-duty love-making might impact unit cohesion – is itself destabilizing. We’ve wasted $300 million enforcing DODT and squandered potentially-critical mission capability.

    steve (56739f)

  20. Hello

    Hate to burst some bubbles here, but homosexuals have always been part of the military and have served just as ably and honorably as straights.

    As long as they DO serve honorably, and that includes obeying the UCMJ just as straights do, what’s the fuss on whether a soldier is married or has a domestic partner?

    My father, WWII vet and DI during Korea said he knew who the gays were in his command, but they acted as full professionals so everyone made it that it was none of anyone’s business.

    Darleen (f20213)

  21. I do not think that homosexuals can be compared to women vis a vis heterosexual men. This is not the forum for it and I am probably doing psychobabble but sexual attraction, I think, is a synergistic thing: “I like her and because she sees I like her she likes me which makes me like her more, etc., etc..” I think heterosexual soldiers can keep homosexual soldiers at a distance. That they can deal with other man to man and not romantic object to romantic object. That one can talk about his girlfriend and the other about his boyfriend. I concede that I am speaking from age fifty about nineteen-year olds. But I fall back to my “That’s what sergeants are for”.

    Let me change the direction of the argument. A few years back, the Texas Rangers enlisted two women as the first two female Rangers. They were both subjected to practical jokes, cold shoulders and teasing. One, a former Texas State Police officer, could not take it and quit. The second,was pictured on the front page of the New York Times. She looked to be about six feet tall and weighing two hundred pounds. And very well armed. When asked about her treatment by the old-time Rangers she said that that there had been some issues but she “just had a talk with them” and everything was now ok. My point being that DADT is a squad-level issue, not a national policy issue. Let them find or make their own acceptance in the military.

    nk (b57bfb)

  22. nk, first off, let me mention that I have no objection to women filling just about any jobs they’re qualified for, and that they want to do. Same goes for people with a homosexual orientation. But I think that service members should have a right not to be compelled to sleep next to, and shower with, and otherwise be in very close contact with, people of the opposite sex and/or people who are avowedly actively gay. I don’t think the sergeants in the U.S. Army should be under orders to deprive service members of such a right. That’s not to denigrate women or to denigrate anyone.

    Andrew (08ba2c)

  23. P.S. Regarding “synergy”….Speaking from personal experience, I know that people can be extremely strongly attracted to other people who do not know they exist. :-)

    Andrew (08ba2c)

  24. P.P.S. Darleen, I hate to burst your bubble, but I have never denied that homosexuals have always been part of the military and have served just as ably and honorably as straights.

    Andrew (08ba2c)

  25. …Interestingly, the DADT only applies to ACTION rather than ORIENTATION. I don’t assume that taking such action translates into such action with anyone else…

    If this were true, we wouldn’t have much to argue about. But instead, the linked-to article points out that according to the Washington Post, “Less than 20 percent of the discharges resulted from personnel being caught with a member of the same sex in a compromising position or from investigations of their conduct.”

    This means that the remaining 80% has been discharged for reasons that are less ACTION-based and more ORIENTATION-based (i.e. finding out that someone else is gay and having them discharged because hey–if I found out, they must have been ‘telling,’ right?). Furthermore, if one is known to be gay prior to their military service, the military won’t recruit him or her.

    When you consider the highly specialized nature of soldiers who have been discharged (“90 nuclear power engineers, 150 missile specialists, 49 nuclear, chemical and biological warfare specialists, 50 intelligence operatives, and 163 police officers and professional prison guards”), it again begs the question: how come the mere fear that some known gay guy may look at my ass trumps national security at a time when the army is literally begging lesser skilled people to join ? I grew up in church with gay people, had many GLBT friends in college and continue to hang out with many GLBT persons during my downtime. I’ve been hit on plenty of times by gay men, but somehow, not one guy has ever disrespected my boundries once he learned that I’m not interested (which is more than I can say for some women I’ve met).

    Andrew, your argument seems to be based not on real life practice, but a bunch of ‘what if’ scenarios scenarios involving some potentially-out-there predatory gay bogeyman. In theory, the whole “what if you put a gay guy and a straight guy in a pup tent together” thing sounds scary, but interestingly enough, I’ve BEEN in a pup tent with a gay guy, and (surprise!) it’s not a big deal. Not every gay guy is attracted to every other man, you know, much like the way you’re probably not attracted to every single woman you’ve ever seen. The question here is not: “Will gay people go on a carnal binge of debauchery if we junk DADT?” but rather “Why does the fear of that which possibly could happen occasionlly (as opposed to a viable, demonstrated issue) trump the much-needed growth of the U.S. Army?”

    Tom (f35e9a)

  26. Did a little straw poll amongst some veteran and actdu types. We felt the best answer is.
    “If you make an unwelcomed advance homo or heterosexually you’re in trouble. Period.”
    Does this prevent people from “Hooking up” no it doesn’t and thats a choice and a chance both hetero and homosexual lovers have to make and take. Someone noted the rules against fraternization, doesn’t that cover it?
    My Company commander gave a speech something like
    “…that guy next to you is your shipmate. He’s not black, blue, purple or white. Jew, Catholic Muslim or whatever. He’s your shipmate. You can’t deal with that let me know now and we’ll ship your ass back home.Questions?”
    I felt that covered it all for me.
    Don’t want to deal with gays go on a mountaintop. Thats all we can offer.
    The military doesn’t need to make a value judgement on homosexuality. They need to make it a non issue. Just like they don’t care what my wife and I do in our bedroom. Had plenty of avowedly gay guys with me in the Navy. So what. They scrubbed cases into the wee hours of the night with me just as well as straight guys.
    If homosexuality is a non issue then it is not a security issue either.
    The real sticky tough issue would be if the military would permit civil unions and grant benefits to life partners.
    Being a married hetero myself, I can see both sides of that argument. Being a conservative I reserve the term marriage for hetero unions.
    But as for DADT, ditch it. Just make the policy DC= Don’t Care.

    paul (464e99)

  27. Thank you Paul for your eloquent insight. It’s one thing for people like me (who’ve never served) to pontificate on this issue, but it’s better to hear coming from one who walked the walk. Sounds like your Company Commander knew how to keep everybody working together effectively.

    Tom (f35e9a)

  28. I must compliment the posters on this thread. The posts have been both civil and articulate, but as I posted in #1: noone’s minds are likely to be changed here. It seems to me that this is an issue, like most issues fraught with both eros and fraternity, that will evolve slowly in society if it is to evolve at all. While I recognize how hard it is for those who feel discriminated against, patience is my recommendation.

    Tob

    toby928 (f6a7ec)

  29. I guess all I can say is, if they get rid of current policy, I hope they also get rid of gender-specific treatment as well. No separate showers for women, no separate bedrooms for women, no separate pup tents, none of it. Apparently, you folks thing that such segregation is just as bad as racism and religious bigotry, so let’s be done with it. No privacy for females, no privacy for males, no privacy for anyone. The sergeants and the company commanders will make it all work out.

    But do me a favor, okay? Let the military do it, and don’t have the courts come in and dictate it.

    Andrew (08ba2c)

  30. nk wrote – “Sorry, Steve. I don’t like DADT, either. I consider it just another piece of Clinton’s sorry legacy. But the Army definitely does not reflect society. It is a world which from a civilian society’s viewpoint is insane — kill or die on orders. Neither is it a place for social experimentation. Hopefully, DADT will soon be a historical accident, not because of politics but because enough sergeants said, ‘I don’t care, and you better not care, where you or anyone else stick their little @#$$’s. Just pull your weight and carry out your orders or you’ll get my BOOT up your @#$’.”

    I also won’t mind with DADT passes into the history books. It was just another example of Clinton’s efforts to pander to everybody. However, the military has been the place for social experimentation in the past. Consider Truman’s desegregation of the military (and civil service) in 1948. I would also consider the Tuskeegee Airmen project a social experiment since many ignorant people claimed that only white people had the skill to fly combat aircraft.

    I had the opportunity many years ago to hear a couple of Tuskeegee Airmen speak at Squadron Officers’ School. They inisted their situation was far different from the issue of openly homosexual people serving in the military, but they never explained how it was different.

    Steve (649c9f)

  31. Andrew

    No separate showers for women, no separate bedrooms for women, no separate pup tents, none of it.

    You’re conflating sex with orientation.

    I don’t know why unless you feel the need to really beat the strawhobbyhorse to death.

    Gay men are still men. Very few of them want to be women (transexual). As you said yourself above, men sharing showers may have no idea if any, some or most of those using the same showers are straight, bi or gay.

    I would suspect you WOULD be aware if the person showering next to your were a woman.

    Just a guess.

    Darleen (f20213)

  32. Darleen, my understanding is that the American military doesn’t care a bit about orientation. A person who has a gay orientation is allowed in the military, and can talk about it all he or she wants. DADT has nothing to do with such people. What DADT addresses is people who are actively gay, and who make it known that they are actively gay. There’s a difference between wanting to do something and doing it, and a difference between doing it discretely and doing it openly. The military doesn’t care about what you want to do, and doesn’t care if you do it discretely; the policy addresses what happens if you do it openly.

    Andrew (08ba2c)

  33. The DADT has had its positive/negative effects on the military for some time now. As an active duty submariner I have had gays in my commands over the last 18 years. In reality, the straights acted more “gay” than the gays- ass-grabbing (literally), pinching nipples, grabbing a guy’s dork that is hanging out of his coveralls, etc- and we never really thought anything about it.

    There isn’t much in the military that has closer living and working space than a sub. Although there were a few guys that got kicked off my boats because they decided to suck off a drunk and passed-out guy in his rack, these are few and far between.

    The privacy issue has also been raised on submarines with respect to women serving on them. It would be difficult to separate men and women berthing and shower facilities let alone straights and gays. It just won’t happen in my service time.

    Personally, I don’t care if htey are gay- just odn’t hit on me or stare at my junk as I get out of the shower. But that is the same set of rules I have for straights anyway. I would be hesitant aobut pulling out my hog if there was a gay around however, but perhaps I should keep it in my pants and off my operator’s shoulder’s.

    Smitster (eb59d4)

  34. Obviously, we need to ban submarines. :-)

    Andrew (08ba2c)

  35. Andrew wrote:

    nk, Steve, C Student, and Dana, if you’re going to get rid of DADT, then I’d very much like to hear an explanation of why it wouldn’t also be appropriate to get rid of separate bedrooms for women, separate showers for women, and other such “discrimination.”

    You need to go and rent the DVD of Starship Troopers. :)

    Dana (71415b)

  36. Well, you know what they say about bubble heads…They go to sea 120 men and come back 60 happy couples….:)
    Sorry Smitster, I’m a ‘big spender from the tender’, I just couldn’t resist.
    But your comment on privacy is an issue. If personal privacy can be assured then gender won’t matter. The lack of personal privacy over time is demoralizing [hence boot camp!]
    So if we can’t provide personal privacy then the make up of the ships population becomes very important in maintaining operational readiness.

    paul (464e99)

  37. Transexual Transexual Whore Transexual Nude…

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    Transexual Transexual Whore Transexual Nude (d82470)


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