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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Alternate versions of reality

An AP article on Yahoo News this morning headlined "Pentagon study: Gays could serve with no harm":

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101130/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/us_gays_in_military

An editorial from the New York Post this morning which looks at the same survey of military personnel and comes to a different conclusion:

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnistsask_the_war_fighters_GXnT9mdAA5wnLSKeMcLjZK

Even though I've always felt that gays should be allowed to serve openly in the military, the Post article -- which is well-researched and commonsensical -- did give me pause. It also includes some interesting statistics on exactly what percentage of the people who have given their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan have come from which branch of military service.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

John,
Thanks for the links. They offer interesting insight into both sides of the argument, but I'm still in agreement with DADT. Most heterosexuals would not want to sleep, shower, etc. with members of the opposite sex (except those of their own choosing). It seems that being forced to share living quarters with someone who was openly homosexual would be no different. It's easy to understand why those in combat situations would object most to repeal of the law.

John Craig said...

Anonymous --
Thank you for your reasoned comment. I'm actually glad that DADT was repealed; I've thought for a while that anybody who was willing to put his life on the line for his country ought to be given the right to do so. But, given the objections that have been voiced by the soldiers and Marines in actual combat units, I feel less strongly about it than I did just a few months ago. I can see why a bunch of young guys would feel that it might hurt their unit's cohesion. Personally, I've been around enough gay people that their presence doesn't bother me, even in a locker room situation. Then again, I couldn't have said that when I was 18. Also, as far as your example of not wanting to be in living quarters with members of the opposite sex, I think that would bother most women far more than it would bother most men, even assuming that all parties had no interest in the other; but I do understand how it would bother them.

My son (who is in a combat unit in the Army) recently said that virtually every soldier he's spoken to on the subject is against the repeal. His position is that a country's fighting force is too important to be subject to the rest of the country's egalitarian craziness: there are other requirements to being in a combat unit, such as being able to pass the ASVAB test, maintaining a certain level of physical fitness, and showing a certain proficiency with weapons, and none of those have anything to do with "fairness," and that this is just one more "unfair" requirement. He has a point. But I still think that it does boil down to a fairness issue, and that being homosexual ought not disqualify you from fighting. Having said that, I would also not object if the Army said that soldiers who felt really uncomfortable in barracks with homosexuals would be given the option of serving in all-heterosexual units. After all, as you point out, they don't make women sleep in the same barracks as men. The usual suspects would scream "discrimination" and "segregation" if that occurred, but that would bother me less than gay people not having the option to serve at all.

One final point: most of Europe's military forces, such as they are, allow homosexuals to serve openly, and I've never heard of that leading to disaster. I say we learn from their experience. (I would also say we learn from their experience when it comes to nationalized healthcare, which has been a semi-disaster over there.)

(How was that for a long-winded response?)

Anonymous said...

John, Thanks for the response and for sharing your son's perspective. While I'm certainly not in favor of banning gays from military service, I think options should be available for those heterosexual soldiers who are uncomfortable co-habitating with them.