ON THE REPEAL OF “DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL” IN THE MILITARY

Home / Bottom Line / ON THE REPEAL OF “DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL” IN THE MILITARY

dennis peacockeby Dennis Peacocke

August 2009

New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand recently succeeded in pressing a Senate re-examination of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, previously enacted to side-step the issue of homosexuals in the Armed Services. As long as they kept quiet about their sexual preferences and did not conspicuously engage in homosexual activity, there would be no controversy around their enlistment. However, since the policy was adopted in 1993 under the Clinton Administration, over 13,000 people have been dismissed from the service for their apparent violation of the policy. I’m not sure exactly what prompted those dismissals, but I must assume they were overt enough to warrant discharges from the Armed Services.

I well remember a Bottom Line article I wrote in 1993 when the policy was enacted. The title of it was, “Don’t Drop the Soap,” and I received a host of varied comments on my comedic approach to the issue (One concerned reader sent me a bar of soap tied to a four-foot rope!). Humor is sometimes a helpful way to diffuse pressure from some issues. Obviously there is little humor on either side of this issue now.

For me, the real issues are these:
Issue Number One: Is mixing homosexuals with straight people in the military (in what are often highly intimate situations) really any different than mixing heterosexuals of different genders together in the same situations? In other words, should we promote common unisex toilets, communal showers and sleeping quarters in the military?

Sexuality is obviously a major issue, as is made obvious by the degree to which it is ubiquitously promoted throughout our sexually preoccupied culture. It is also a highly private matter to many people. However, boobs, butts and genitals do not mix well with other highly focused situations. That’s a no-brainer for anyone other than a sexually inept human being. If homosexuality is really equally as normal as being heterosexual, then the perceived “discrimination issue” is absolutely no different, in practical terms, than the so-called discrimination of separating men from women in a military context where sexual energy would complicate relationships in the midst of situations that are mission-driven and often life-threatening.

Issue Number Two: What is not working with the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy? This is not about the moral issues surrounding the “rightness” or “wrongness” of a person’s sexual preference. Rather, the very core of the issues surrounding “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is based on sheer practicality. It really goes back to issue number one: keeping too much sexual testosterone or estrogen awareness out of the military equation.
Perhaps the best way to deal with all of this is to demand that Barney Frank, Nancy Pelosi, Kirsten Gillibrand, and all the other members of the Senate and Congress
regularly use communal showers and toilets together for several months and then tell us if it affected their performances in any way. By way of clarification, I mean their governmental  performances. And if you get my point here, you prove that you understand what I’m trying to say. That, by the way is…..the bottom line.

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