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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Ask and tell

The reasoning against allowing openly gay people in the military is roughly as follows: the other soldiers would be uncomfortable with a homosexual in the barracks, and it might hurt the esprit de corps.

But the guys most comfortable with gays tend to be those most secure in their own masculinity, and you'd think the macho types in the barracks wouldn't be upset by their presence. (Though this does tend to be truer of 30-somethings than 18-year-olds.)

Gays abound in corporations. Yet you never hear people complain, "We can't get any business done, those homos are just blowing each other left and right and are really hurting the company morale." (My impression is that they make great workers.)

Some might point out that coworkers at a corporation don't have to sleep in the same room, which is true enough. But students often room -- and even shower -- with gays in college dormitories. You never hear anybody complain that they can't get any studying done as a result.

Gays are certainly omnipresent on Capitol Hill.

Well, that may not be the best example of a place which remains functional despite their presence.

Heteros tend to imagine that any gathering of gays will automatically turn into a big orgy. But this is not so. I went to a gay-themed swimming meet once (it was held in conjunction with the Pride festivities of 2004, and I was looking for a meet in a fast pool). I was apprehensive beforehand, and was one of the few non-gays there. But the meet was well run, people were polite and helpful, and there were zero public displays of affection that I saw.

The only place which has a widespread homosexual harassment problem is prison. And it seems that most of the rape there is committed by animals whose orientation would be straight on the outside, but who will jump on anything that moves. (This is not a brief for abolishing prisons, though something should be done to protect prisoners from homosexual rape. On second thought, if their crimes were odious enough, maybe not.)

As it is, gays are not banned from the military unless they "tell," which means that some are serving now. Yet you never hear of cases of gay-caused disruption. ("We were attacked by the Taliban, and we might have held them off, but Bruce and Geoffrey were too busy painting their nails to bother to pick up their rifles.")

I've heard that a large percentage of women who serve fall into one of two categories: whores or lesbians (this is purely hearsay, but I've heard it more than once). My guess is that lesbians make better soldiers than most women. (The whores, I don't know about.)

Army culture will always be macho -- as it should be, if you're interested in winning wars -- but that doesn't have to exclude gays. The gays drawn to the military are probably a fiercer breed than the ones drawn to fashion. Some of the biggest Olympic stars have been gay. Given that sport is essentially stylized, nonlethal combat, many of those gay athletes would undoubtedly have made great soldiers. Greg Louganis, after suffering a concussion from hitting his head on the springboard in 1988, continued to compete, and went on to win the gold medal. If it had been me, I probably would have listened to the doctor and quit. Louganis would have made a better soldier than me.

Spartan soldiers were known to have homosexual relations with each other. The case could be made that soldiers thus bonded would be even more loyal to each other. (Check out the movie 300; it's proof that soldiers who wax their chests make incredibly effective warriors.)

In 2002, the military saw an increase in enlistments because of the surge of patriotism which followed 9/11. But as the war dragged on, enlistments faltered and the military had to lower its standards in order to make its quotas. More recently, enlistments have risen again because of the economy, and the standards have risen commensurately. (The Army can once again insist on high school diplomas and a minimum IQ of roughly 92.) If gays knew that they would be accepted, they would enlist in larger numbers, and that might allow the Army to raise its standards even further. (Who knows, they might also improve the decor of those drab barracks.)

It's hard enough to recruit people willing to die for our country. Turning some of them down on the basis of their sexuality seems wasteful. (Rather than turning them away, we should be honoring them.) Gays have always been with us, and always will be. The military might as well take advantage.

Any fighting force brave enough to face enemies with guns is more than brave enough to face gays in their barracks.


Anonymous said...

Well said. Entertaining. Not quite uplifting....but close enough to count!

John Craig said...

Thank you Guy.

I'm trying, even though it goes against my nature.

Anonymous said...

I've heard that a large percentage of women who serve fall into one of two categories: whores or lesbians"
Sounds so superficial and sexist, that had I not read some of your other posts, I would think you might qualify for both of those adjectives.

John Craig said...

Anonymous -- Thank you for your comment. I probably do qualify for both of those adjectives.

On the other hand, given that I've heard that a number of times, there is probably some truth to those stereotypes. (Please keep in mind, a stereotype does not mean that everyone fits that description, merely that a higher percentage than normal do.) Also, I should point out/admit, I've never been in the service myself, so my firsthand experience is nil. I'm only passing along what I've heard. Rumor-mongering, you could say.

Anonymous said...

An article in the 10/19/09 Washington Times had some interesting statistics:

The general public is supportive of allowing gays to openly serve in the military according to two polls - a December CNN poll showed 81% approval for it, and a May 2009 USA Today / Gallup poll showed 69% favored a policy change.

But members of the military oppose the idea. "The most recent Military Times survey showed that 58 percent of military respondents oppose a policy change, and 24 percent said they would either leave the military (10 percent) or consider terminating their careers after serving their tours of duty (14 percent)".

If members of the military oppose the idea this strongly, it would appear that changing present policy would weaken our military. And it goes without saying whose opinion matters most on this issue. This would also probably explain why Obama is now kicking the issue toward Congress, and Congress is unlikely to touch it.

- Ed

John Craig said...

That's a very good point, and we certainly don't want to do anything to weaken the military. I have to admit, I see it as a matter of civil rights (old style civil rights, not "civil rights" as the term is generally used now, meaning, special privileges). But it's not something that's going to affect me personally.

On the other hand, I suspect that a lot of the respondents to that poll were just being dramatic for effect, i.e., the way Alec Baldwin and other prominent liberals said they were going to leave the country if George W.Bush was elected President -- none of them ever did. If you had asked me when I was 18 if I would have wanted any gays on my swim team, I would definitely have said no. But it turned out (I didn't know it at the time) that a couple of the guys were gay, and they were actually two of the nicer guys on the team. My guess is that the military would adjust, the same way it has to a racially integrated existence.