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Ignorance and Fear Used as Arguments for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” August 18, 2006

Posted by newsfittopost in lgbt Issues, military.

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has managed to reemerge as an important issue in the media and it has become apparent that few journalists support the failed policy. Over the past few months, dozens of national and regional editorial staffs have come out against the ban. Here are a few soundbites:

Washington Post: “It insults those who would serve their country even as it deprives the military of their service.”

USA Today: “The U.S. ban on openly gay servicemembers is an archaic and hurtful assault on people who want only to serve their country.”

The Tennessean: “At a time the nation desperately needs good soldiers, it continues to let good soldiers get away for senseless reasons.”

Springfield News-Leader (MO): “The fighting men and women of this country have always known that some of their fellow soldiers were gay and lesbian, and no congressional policy is going to change that. To continue to live under some fallacy that such knowledge somehow diminishes morale or reduces a soldier’s ability to serve the nation is absurd.”

In response to the Springfield News-Leader editorial, a reader wrote a letter to the editor condemning the paper’s opinion on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. His arguments in support of the policy show the ignorance and fear associated with openly gay men and women in the military:

I think two things: (1) If this law is rescinded and thus removed from Army regulation, it will close an “escape hatch” used by a lot of soldiers to be discharged for actual reasons other than homosexuality; and (2) morale and effectiveness of our military will be adversely affected when/if gays and their lifestyle are openly accepted.

And speaking of “absurd” (another adjective used in the article), I think that gay guys sharing the showers and latrines with other male soldiers would be as absurd as putting straight guys in the showers and latrines with female soldiers.

His first argument, that heterosexual soldiers would not be able to use “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” as an excuse to escape the military, seems like an argument to repeal the flawed policy. He doesn’t seem to understand that the way to close this alleged “escape hatch” is to get rid of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, not keep it.

His second argument is based on ignorance, not fact or informed opinion. He talks about a loss of morality in the military if gay and lesbian people are able to serve openly. A ridiculous statement that is made even more ridiculous by the recent sexual harassment, rape and white supremacist problems that have plagued Army bases throughout the country. If this man is truly worried about morality in the military, he should focus his attention on rooting out Army base violence and prejudice, not making sure gays and lesbians keep their mouths shut.

His final thought is one based on fear of gay and lesbian people… he seems to believe gay and lesbian soldiers putting their lives on the line are doing so because they want to peek at other soldiers in the shower. If a gay or lesbian person really wanted to check out people in the shower, it is safe to assume that they would join a gym to fulfill that desire before joining the military. His disregard for the valor, courage and integrity of our gay and lesbian troops is disturbing.

Lastly, the reader also fails to realize that gay and lesbian troops have been in every American war in history. These soldiers have the opportunity to check men or women out in the shower regardless of whether they are out to their fellow soldiers. Allowing them to serve openly will not increase the number of “shower-peeking” incidents. Gay and lesbian soldiers are there whether they are able to serve openly or not.

Unfortunately, the News-Leader letter to the editor reveals the usual ignorance and fear associated with openly gay men and women in the military. The opposition bases its arguments in homophobia and completely disregards whether it is a policy that hurts both the military and the gay and lesbian people who put their lives on the line for Americans like himself.

I must commend the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network for using the Freedom of Information Act to gather statistics on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” discharges and for ensuring the media was able to give the policy the scrutiny it deserves.



1. AnferTuto - July 28, 2007

Hola faretaste

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