Saturday, September 24, 2011

"Fat, Dumb, and Homophobic is no way to go through life, son"

I got a big laugh from this, the latest on the proposed re-institution of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (aka "Youse Homos Can Serve Until We SAY Youse Can't Serve") from Former Senator "Man-on-Dog" Rick Santorum:
"What we are doing is playing social experimentation with our military right now. That's tragic. I would just say that going forward we would reinstitute that policy if rick santorum was president. That policy would be reinstituted as far as people in I would not throw them out that would be unfair to them because of the policy of this administration. But we would move forward in conformity with what was happening in the past. Which was sex is not an issue. It should not be an issue. Leave it alone. Keep it to yourself whether you are heterosexual or homosexual."
because if you needed to know anything about what the man doesn't know about military service circa 2011, this pretty much tells you.And that's...pretty much everything.

I never served in anything but an all-male unit until after I got off active duty. But since then I've been assigned to everything between a headquarters company and a laundry-and-bath platoon with stops along the way with every sort of military critter.

And one thing I can tell you with stone-cold certainty.

Sex is ALWAYS an issue.

Doesn't matter if it's the boys on the girls, the girls on the boys, the boys on the boys or the girls on the girls. We're human, so until we're about 68 years old roughly a third of our brain is occupied in thinking about sex. I'm not sure what the other 66 percent does; sudoku, maybe.

Obviously the most complicated this gets for military discipline is in mixed-gender units. I've worked in several, and I can tell you that you can walk and talk military discipline and the UCMJ all you want to, but you get a young man and a young woman together and you automatically have the potential for something not covered in the rest positions at the halt section of FM 22-5.

Mind you, the Army has a long history of being stupid about Sex. I saw it first all the way back in 1981, when in its infinite wisdom the Army had set up a mixed-gender BT company. 1st Platoon of A/4/3, Fort Dix N.J. was female. "First Fox" fireguards shared a stairwell with my Second Platoon, and I was later told (though I was unaware at the time, being first a squad leader and then platoon guide and thus exempt from fireguard) that the young women on guard ranged from adorable to fugly and the young men from studly to dorky. But they were there, they were horny, they were bored, so almost none of them left Fort Dix unscrewed.

It's lucky we never did have a fire; the horndogs were too busy having it off in the empty cadre rooms to have sounded an alarm.And in my experience it almost always has nothing to do with homosexuality, which makes Santorum's connection between the Big Gay Scary even less sensible. The disciplinary problems and/or personnel complications were 99.9% heterosexual and 85% consensual (the other 15% were a supervisor/supervised deal, which IMO pretty much can't really be counted as such any more than any other "sexual harassment" type scenerio can).

And gay?

Ask anyone who served in Panama back in '86 and '87; the women's barracks over at 210 Aviation was like a big OG-107-covered episode of "The L-Word". Damn near every one of those gals liked her girls like she liked her corn-on-the-cob; hot and covered in butter.

But y'know what? They worked their asses off and kept those aircraft where they belonged, in the air, and as a result nobody really brought up the whole "hot-girl-on-girl-GI-action" thing.So excuse me if I continue to laugh at young Mister Santorum, who seems to think that U.S. troops have to put their genitalia in the company safe before leaving Reception Station. Sex not an issue?

Maybe on your planet, spaceman...


  1. Well said. Thanks for sharing your experience in this ultimately political non-issue.

  2. I dunno . . .

    First, a "war story" appropriate to the subject.

    Nineteen-seventy-five. That summer, Camp Pendleton, 11th Marines, Bedbugs; you get the picture.

    FST School, hoping to go home after what in part was the nightmare of a military in dissolution . . . which was the Army and Marine Corps in 1975. Vietnam was a clear defeat. What did it all mean then? What does it all mean now?

    Gays in the military? . . . There was a rather effeminate Black Sgt whom other Marine NCOs would openly comment on, while we were in formation. Comments both positive and derogatory. He would present himself physically - he addressed our formation at least once, although I can barely remember what he actually said.

    Was it an acceptable, even obvious option? Was it part of the deal? He had his supporters. I was hopelessly overwhelmed to understand what all of it meant in 1975, as an 18-year-old rather immature American male, and thank God a Reservist. We had essentially a military in revolt. Not only the new privates but the government itself had problems dealing with what had become of the US military after its years in Vietnam . . .

  3. seydlitz: Imagine what the first black NCO faced standing in front of a platoon where a third of his troops were deep-South rednecks.

    Bottom line; command priorities. The troops will learn to shut up and soldier when the command takes no prisoners for "immature American males". It worked for the blacks, it will work for the gays.

    Does it mean that everyone holds hands and sings kumbaya? Fuck no.

    Another anecdote; I got to Bragg in 1981. I lived with the medical platoon in the third floor of A Company's barrack. The cooks were billeted across the hall.

    We were 95% white. They were 95% black. My roommate that year had a baseball bat hidden in his walllocker with "Nigger Knocker" written on it. About once or twice a year the first couple of years I was there someone would bump into someone else in a bad mood, the words "cracker" and "nigger" would come out, and we'd have a brawl.

    The HHC commander would smoke our asses. NCOs got busted, EMs went to CCF. Eventually, by the time I left in '84, things were better.

    Did the white boys love them some brothers? No.

    Did the homies give the crackers big hugs? No.

    But everybody learned to STFU on duty, keep their racist shit behind closed doors, and soldier.

    That's what will happen here, if the commanders make it happen. If they don't, it won't.

  4. FDChief-

    The point of my story was that a certain culture had developed in the Marine Corps and Army after the debacle of Vietnam. This included imo as this instance indicates a certain tolerance of openly gay service members, however this did not last. It was considered contrary to military discipline and was gone by the early 1980s.

    I don't know how effective racial integration after 1950 is as an analogy to what we are talking about here. Perhaps a better one is women serving in combat units, but even this one is dealing with something quite different.

    It has to do with the inherent social cohesion of military units, how the group sees itself. Does this new policy somehow effect this cohesion in ways that we don't see or anticipate? Personally, as a civilian, I'm not part of this particular group and only bring up what for me are obvious questions. I'll leave it to those in the military to come up with their own answers.

    The progressive/liberal assumption is that the military can be used as something of a laboratory to enlighten and change our society by doing away with "outmoded and regressive tendencies". But this same political view rejects certain values that the military would find very important . . .

  5. I think what you guys may be missing is that the average soldier just doesn't give a shit.

    We all joke about the DADT policies, and how "it's okay, you can finally come out" is said about once a day. I remember when I was in Basic training, and a Drill SGT walked into the bay to announce that Clinton was just elected, that a particular private will finally be allowed to "come out." It was a joke then, and it is still a joke today. But it isn't discrimination.

    All jokes aside, really, most soldiers could really give a shit. Not going to say there is zero discrimination based on race/sexual preference/gender etc, but I will say that the Army has become very pragmatic after 10 years of sustained combat deployments (and to be fair, society has changed, there is a new crop of kids in the service who never really knew the blatant discrimination that previous generations lived through).

    I was in a closed door conversation yesterday with my CSM, Bde Cdr and were talking about something or other, and the CSM mentioned one of the CI NCO's, and that she has a live in girlfriend that she can now officially acknowledge. None of us really batted an eye, kinda made sense. And not a single one of us saw her any different after hearing that, she is a solid NCO and could care less beyond that.

    Sorry for the rant, but I will state my point again. The vast majority of soldiers today don't care, it is about how you do your job and how you interact with each other. There are plenty of polls out there to support my anecdotal evidence.

  6. bg-

    It's not a matter of what the troops care about, but the people who write the laws and/or think they should write the laws. We are not talking about rational thought driving the Santorums of the country on this.

  7. Rick Santorum is a tool, but like all Presidential candidates these days, he's making promises he can't keep - and unless he's an idiot as well as a tool, he knows his promise is an empty one. DADT wasn't a "policy" it was a law passed by Congress and signed by the President. Some of us knew gay people in the military and said nothing because we didn't give a shit. Repeal of DADT was another law passed by Congress and signed by the President. A President Santorum can't do squat unless he can get Congress and the Senate to pass yet another law. Ain't gonna happen. That ship has sailed.

    Secondly, I agree with BG and would add that this is largely a generational thing. The boomer cohort, which makes up the senior leadership, is much more socially conservative on this issue than the younger generations. BG is right, most of us don't give a shit and IMO that sentiment is only going to grow as the boomer pass into retirement.

    Finally, the real tough questions are going to involve benefits and the current political battles in the states over gay marriage. Can, for example, a chaplain who is serving in a state where gay marriage is legal marry two gay service people? How will the military recognize these marriages? This is something the new law doesn't really address and Congress and/or the courts are going to have to figure it out one way or another.

  8. "... 68 ..."!!!!! Speak for yourself Chief, some of us senior citizens are still horn dogs, or at least wannabees.

  9. I think the main point here was that this guy - whether he can actually DO anything about this - honestly believes that it's important to fight this battle.

    But as bg points out; every one of us who were or are in knows or knew someone who was knocking boots with someone, male-male, female-female, male-female. Sometimes it was an issue (if it impacted the unit's function - I had a first sergeant who was screwing one of the nurses in one of the surgical wards (male-female, in this case) and it was a real PITA, because she was a crappy officer and he worked to cover her ass) a lot of times it wasn't. It was just part of the job and right now, with deployments out the ying-yang and the young people coming in who could care less, it's just not that important

    But these gomers Man-Dog keep trying to fight this fight. They just don't get that it's OVER, man.

    Like Andy says, the damn ship has sailed. Most of the first-termers honestly don't give a rat's ass, and everyone else (the lifers) will do whatever the chain of command tells them to - it's their job.

    So who's he playing to?

    His idiot would-be voters, of course, who really DO care. Just one more teeny bit of the kabuki that passes for politics-as-usual inside the Beltway. That's the thing that caught me about this; his obvious playing the homo card based on his ignorance of, and his knowledge of his audience's ignorance of, how things work in the billets.

  10. Chief,

    Yeah, I think you've got it right. I don't know whether he really believes what he says or not. That's the problem with what almost any politician says in the primaries. They have to pander to the base and it's a well known maxim that politicians tend toward extremes during the primaries, then tack back to the middle for the general election. With those comments he's targeting a narrow right-wing, very social conservative demographic. I very much doubt that re-institution of DADT would be a high priority for an actual Santorum presidency since it's something that's not likely to succeed.

    For me, it's very frustrating. I hate primary season. It gives loons like Bachmann the illusion of real legitimacy (which is thankfully fading fast) and it encourages the worst kind of pandering to very narrow interests. This is especially true for the GoP.

  11. Andy: Can, for example, a chaplain who is serving in a state where gay marriage is legal marry two gay service people? How will the military recognize these marriages?

    "Military weddings" are performed consistent with the denominational beliefs of the chaplain and the law of the local civil law. There is no such thing as a military (or federal) "Certificate of Marriage". Chaplains who meet the requirements of local law simply perform wedding ceremonies consistent with their denominational group, under local law, using a base chapel. HOWEVER, since federal law specifically refuses to recognize same sex marriage at present, it's not an issue - YET.
    The Navy Chief of Chaplains "jumped the gun" on this when DADT was repealed and issued chaplain guidance for on base gay marriage that was pulled back within a couple of days. It was determined that since the "Defense of Marriage Act" specifically defines marriage as only heterosexual for the federal government, the Navy Chief of Chaplains had erred. However, the section of DOMA that defines marriage as "only between one man and one woman" is under serious attack in the courts. So if chaplains do gain authority to perform same sex marriages, it will be because federal law no longer refuses to recognize same, and it would be a locally legal marriage - for now.

    If DOMA is found unconstitutional, and only some states allow same sex marriage, could we end up seeing a federal marriage license to enable gay marriage of service members in non-same sex marriage states? That would be very difficult legislation, if even Constitutionally possible, to get through Congress - at least in the foreseeable future. Can the feds violate state law within the borders of a given state.

  12. And after further review I remember the other thing about Santorum's comment that drove me nuts, and that's the notion (which seems to crop up a bit in conservative circles) that sex - especially gay sex - just needs to GO AWAY.

    And that was a big part of the post itself, because we hairless bonobos spend a ridiculous amount of time on sex. Sex and the attendant emotions and social conventions we've hung on it have destroyed marriages, businesses, friendships, and empires. Whether its gay or straight, licit or secret...humans have tended to do incredibly pointlessly self-destructive and damaging things where sex come into it.

    So for this goober to say something like "sex was not an issue, sex SHOULD not be an issue" it's a sign to me that he's either a) not serious and just talking out his blowhole, or b) IS serious and is more f'ed up than a football bat.

    Because with people sex is ALWAYS an issue. Yes, you can control it (tho go too far and look what happens - some extremes of celibacy produce results as freakish and destructive as the worst of lusts...), yes, you don't have to be a slave to it. But you DO need to plan for it, and you DO need to be realistic about it.

    Just saying "It shouldn't be an issue" tells me you're a clueless gorp. And yet, here's this gorp being taken seriously by the media as well as a significant slice of the U.S. public.

  13. Al,

    Thanks for the explanation, that was very informative.

  14. Andy-

    My pleasure to be able to shed light on anything. There was a lot of uninformed and misinformed discussion amongst religious denominations about the impact on the Chaplains Corps. One was that Chaplains would be required to violate their denominational tenets as the ban is lifted. When the Chief of Navy Chaplains issued his ill advised guidance (supposedly without checking with the JAG), it just fueled the flames. Finally, saner heads, including serving chaplains from denominations with serious reservations about homosexual behavior, pointed out that the military has never required chaplains to violate the tenets of their denominations in the conduct of duty, and very particularly denominations who believe in "sacraments". There's this little paragraph called the 1st Amendment which prohibits this. Catholic and Orthodox Christian chaplains (two faiths of which I have reasonably sound doctrinal understanding), for example, will not be forced to give Communion to openly practicing gay troops any more than their civilian priest counterparts.

    However, the chaplains will have to exist in a community with openly homosexual people, just as their civilian counterparts. When homosexuality was decriminalized, that did not require Catholic and Orthodox Christian clergy (again, for sake of example) to give Communion to openly practicing gay people.

    This repeal is not "social experimentation". The general population has general acceptance of homosexuals living and working productively in their midst, even many who do not wish to see same sex marriage. The "don't really give a shit" attitude of the bulk of the troops only reflects the greater society from which they came. Truman's racial integration executive order was infinitely more revolutionary and out of step with general societal norms of the time.

    I think you are absolutely spot on about Primary Season whack-a-zoid pandering. The current GOP is raising it to an art form, and may very well lose control of the party as a result.

  15. seydlitz,
    Just a little snarky cmt on Communion.
    A gay soldier won't get it , but a pedophile priest can be distributing it.
    I know - i just couldn't restrain myself.
    A former altar boy.