Friday, June 4, 2010

You Don't Have to Like It, You Just Have to Tolerate It

With Don’t Ask Don’t Tell closer to revision and repeal, people seem to be almost unified in support of the repeal, even if they might not agree with homosexuality as moral or acceptable. And that’s definitely something to inspire greater unity. The only people that even remotely make me feel disappointment are those like the author of the second article, Tony Perkins, who suggest that ending DADT will somehow infringe on their religious freedoms and more precisely their 1st Amendment rights. I should probably get my criticism out of the way by pointing out the most problematic angles of Tony Perkins’ argument. First, he seems to think that the repealing of DADT will somehow lead to a slippery slope that will reinforce the alleged “gay agenda” (as opposed to a straight agenda?) in the military. Both new recruits and those already in the service will apparently be indoctrinated into brute acceptance of homosexuality as normal. Somehow, I doubt this sincerely. Just because a company allows women or racial minorities or even gay people to be hired doesn’t suggest that the company is advocating non minorities as somehow less important. Beyond quitting or choosing not to be employed in the first place, there are few other options besides trying to change the policy through legal means (unlikely in the long run), pressuring gays out of the military through persecution within the ranks (which is just cowardly) or just going along with it and focusing on the primary duty of a soldier: protecting your country from enemies. Even a child could understand how immature and pointless this argument is. They’d just ask their parents who object to homosexuals serving in the military, “Isn’t a soldier supposed to beat up the bad guys? Why should they care about what they do in the bedroom like mommy and daddy?” Just imagining it probably wouldn’t compare to actually hearing a child tear down this kind of bigotry. There are people suggesting that because showering together with gays will make straight soldiers uncomfortable that the repeal of DADT is wrong and would reduce morale and cohesion within the military. That’s what James Conway suggested indirectly a few months ago, though not so explicitly in terms that suggest latent homophobia. But what’s worse here is Tony Perkins pulling the First amendment card to try to justify his position.

The gist of this angle is that if homosexuality is said to be acceptable (which isn’t what the repeal of DADT is doing) then the military chaplains will be silenced in their right to say that homosexuality is wrong or immoral and counsel soldiers about potential relationship issues. But like I “subtly” pointed out two times before, repealing DADT doesn’t suggest that the military thinks homosexuality is moral or good. It is merely saying that they accept homosexuality as something that is a part of their soldiers as much as their sex or race. I doubt all the high ranking officers would agree that homosexual behavior is condoned by their faiths but they would at least see that it is unreasonable to make homosexuality something that people should keep hidden or be deceptive about in order to maintain honesty and integrity in the military. The discipline and training a soldier acquires would first and foremost emphasize (I imagine) that self control and responsibility are invaluable to a soldier in their unit. Regardless of if they disagree with a fellow soldier’s faith or lack thereof, their race or in our contemporary context, their sexual orientation or gender identity, the primary concern of a soldier should be cohesion and trust. If you cannot trust someone to protect your life on the battlefield just because you think they are sexually attracted to you, you have two issues. 1) You’re paranoid and have trust issues towards people different than you and 2) You have an unhealthy sense of self worth to think that every gay person, male or female respectively, is attracted to you. They may very well think you’re butt ugly, or more likely you’re just not their type. And even if you were, I would think the vast majority of gay or straight people would have the sense to keep such romantic fraternizations to a bare minimum and outside of the context of combat and also respect your not returning their attraction if it exists.

People are also suggesting that gays would use this repeal of DADT to gain some special status to protect them, which is also absurd. The gays that flaunt themselves in pride parades are hardly the same gays that are patriotic. And even if there were some that happened to have gay pride, I doubt they’d be so obnoxious as to use their sexual orientation as a crutch to make themselves feel special. As one person noted, being in the military is not a right, it’s a privilege, you choose to enter. A gay person entering the military would likely know that they are not treated differently because they are gay once DADT is repealed and the policies of discrimination are altered to include sexual orientation. For gay people to be more motivated to enter the military should be a boon to the army and such. Losing bigoted people like chaplains who don’t think homosexuality should be tolerated at all is hardly going to be the primary concern of the military.

All in all, a person’s right to free speech shouldn’t stop at offending others, but it shouldn’t require them to legislate restrictions on the free speech of others either just because some of their free speech might offend them. Chaplains don’t have to agree with the choices of faith that a fellow soldier makes, since their primary job is not evangelism in the military context; it’s counseling and general encouragement of fellowship between soldiers in the situations that would have otherwise stable people desperately need human companionship on some level. You can disagree with homosexuality, but there’s no reason to discriminate against them in the military any more than in the workplace. The differences are accidental. You could just have easily been born with predisposition to same sex attractions, so why not just sympathize and find common ground instead of drawing battle lines because of what gets your rocks off? Until next time, Namaste and Aloha

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